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Friday, February 12, 2010

Ready, Set, Swing

A few weeks ago I was overjoyed when one of my students began to swing on his own. Honestly, I’m not the “pushing” teacher. I’d much rather play tag than to stand behind a swing and push for an hour. I’m also convinced they’ll never want to learn if I’m there pushing anyway. That goes for bike riding as well (but that’s for another post on another day).

While swinging along side my star pupil I was reminded of how his determination for swinging began. For the next few weeks I noticed a distinct pattern in which children go from tummy swinging to full on pumping on their own. Here are my fabulous finds. See if you’ve noticed this similar pattern.

Step 1: First, the child will attempt to sit in the swing. If they can sit in the swing they
quickly notice there is not motion besides sitting and either leaves or moves to
step 2.

Step 2: The child lies their tummy on the swing and attempts to swing back and forth.

Step 3: After there is little motion with tummy swinging; the child learn to run just enough
cause a constant motion and with legs bent upward will have an enjoyable
swinging experience for some time.

Step 4: Once the child has mastered tummy swinging or their legs are too long to
accommodate tummy swinging the child will move on to again getting into the
swing. They will again look for someone to push for them.

Step 5: The child in step 5 understands there is a concept to swinging and will wildly
swing his/her legs back and forward realizing this does create some kind of
motion, but still barely moving enough to be satisfied.

Step 6: This step usually takes some prompting from an adult. I usually say the words,
“legs forward”, and “back”. “Go forward” Now “go back”. This is quite funny since
they tend to get confused as to when the legs should be going forward and

Step 7: This child understands their own body movement is creating the swinging
motion. He/She has the mechanics down and is moving in a constant motion.

Step 8: The Professional Swinging Student has mastered all the above steps and is now
legs forward leaning back, and legs bent with his/her back arch to make the
swing go higher.

Note: This is not the rule for smaller preschoolers. I will bend my non-pushing rule for toddlers but by
four I only give small pushes for those attempting to swing on their own. And in
this case I’m constantly repeating...”forward and back” with lots of cheers and

Now go out and swing today!


  1. Great tips! I also use a little chant I made up. It's not that cute, but it's effective. As they are pumping, say "Legs.....Up to the sky, Pull back!". I am not a "pusher", I'm a teacher---what are they learning if I'm doing the swinging for them?! :)

  2. Hhhmmm...I never thought about the entire process before...very interesting! I also am not a pusher. Ever. I don't push anyone on a swing or help anyone onto any equipment. Having a mixed-age group, our rule is that if you are not big enough to do it yourself, you are not big enough to be on it. It's a safety thing...I need to be available to help when necessary...if I'm helping one kid I may not be able to get to another kid who needs me. I have never actually taught a kid how to swing, the older kids always take care of that when a littler one is ready!

  3. This Fall we had the same issues, the kids also had a hard time getting up on the high swings. We did a lot of practice getting in and out of the swings, and then the dissapointment of not being able to "pump" to make the swing move. That was enough to get us pumping those legs and now all my preschoolers can swing on their own. But what a process, always having to decide when to intervene and when to leave them to it.

  4. Thanks you all for visiting and commenting. I'm so happy I'm not the only teacher that refuses to push. I must seem like the mean teacher to the kids, I noticed they've stopped asking me. Although, they love playing ball with me since it's rare the other teachers will.

  5. I agree...I teach children with disabilities who are often "babied" and don't have to do anything independently. I will stand in front of them and hold my hands up for them to "aim" at, and then gently push their feet down so that they get used to the motion. Then I slowly back off and enjoy the smiles because they can do it themselves! :)

  6. Anonymous...what a blessing you are:) I love my fellow Early Childhood Educators as I know it takes a special someone to teach little ones and love it! It's quite another thing to teach children with disabilities as that is in a league all of it's own.

    My mom for taught special needs for a while, she left it saying that she would get too attached her kids as we all do. She's been cook for a long time now but anytime we talk about her special needs children her eyes smile.

    I appreciate you and the incredible job you do. Keep visiting:) I'd love for you to join our discussions on Early Childhood Education Group.

  7. This is a great post on swinging.. Makes me wish it were spring time... Snow go away!!

  8. When the child swings towards you with their feet outstretched, I pretend to try and grab their feet, they quickly tuck them under the seat! Before they realise it, they are swinging!

  9. i am so glad that you post this on your blog. i was looking for steps of swinging info to present to my director.