It’s not just jumping: how the trampoline forms a critical part of our learning approach.

It’s not just jumping: how the trampoline forms a critical part of our learning approach.
Photo by Caroline Hernandez / Unsplash

But, for four years we have watched children engage with the trampoline and as ever with our curiosity lens firmly in place we consider how trampoline engagement builds the child’s developmental progress (engagement is a crucial element in our approach – learning should be joyful not mundane).

We also marvel at the pronounced changes in our children’s wide variation in play choices over time (and progress). The trampoline for some children is the highlight of the first few weeks and months. We believe it nurtures the safe and focus switches we need to make stable in our centre before other progress can be made. Then a transformation occurs (at each child’s unique pace). Other play activities take precedence. The trampoline becomes neglected. But it remains as a perfect indicator for adults when a child seeks it again, clearly telling us they need to calm, re-focus, distance themselves, before returning to new activities.

There are obvious learning impacts engaging with a trampoline provides from an therapy perspective.

Sensory input helps me focus.

Sensory input helps me calm.

Bouncing makes my body feel good.

Supported bouncing when my body is hurting feels good.

Falling down without hurting myself makes me laugh and it makes others laugh, so that makes me laugh some more.

Pushing my boundaries feels good.

Having a pile of ball-pit balls that jump with me in unpredictable ways makes me curious about cause and effect, trajectory and velocity.

But there is even more than that at play when out little visitors to EL select the trampoline.

More face to face with adults through the safety net gauze that seems to satisfyingly reduce the visual overwhelm some children feel.

Increased connection to the meaning of action words the adults use to describe the child’s movements.

Increased strength and coordination so that more brain power is freed up to engage in non movement related learning

Soothing beyond just sensory seeking but perhaps in the modulated and asynchronous motion replicating the movements like those that sooth an infant when they are rocked.

The neuroscience of emotions, attachment, communication and regulation is very clear on what our brain and bodies need. A trampoline for some children certainly taps into what that very science recommends.