The first step: Make sure the rope you choose is the right length -- it should reach to your child's armpits when she's standing on the center of it. (If it's longer, she'll wear herself out; if it's too short, it'll catch on her feet.) Start with a lightweight plastic one, since it's easier to turn. Once your child gets the hang of jumping, she can graduate to a heavier gauge rope that offers more control.
To get started: Try these tips from Jane Pickett, of the U.S. Amateur Jumprope Federation:
- Have your child practice jumping with her feet together, without the rope.
- Teach her to move the rope around her body: Ask her to grasp it firmly in each hand and let it hang behind her heels, so it touches the ground. Then have her swing the rope over her head and stop it on the ground in front of her feet. She should swing it back to her heels again, without jumping. Repeat.
- Encourage her to look straight ahead (not down), tuck her elbows in, and keep her hands low -- by her pockets.
- When she gets the hang of the swing, let her hop over the rope after it comes to rest at her feet.
- Have her repeat, while slowly building up speed.
- If she's having trouble, she can jump with a friend who's already mastered the skill (you'll probably be too tall). While they both move under one longer rope, have her friend do the swinging while your daughter focuses on her hopping.