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Are you a mother (like me) who has discovered her child climbing the burglar bars?  Yep, not great for the heart! Be assured…it IS normal, and it IS good for them to climb.

Climbing is something which some children begin to experiment with early on. It may start with a self-appointed mission to climb onto the couch or tackle those stairs. It seems to be something instinctive that children do – and (rest assured), it is all part of their development and growth.

So, hopefully the information below will help you put your mind at rest – as parents, we need to become cheerleaders of our climbers…

Benefits of Climbing for children.

1. Climbing is FUN!

Children are just automatically attracted to the pull of climbing frames – they just HAVE to conquer them…you know, like burglar guards! There is something about making it to the top of a climbing structure that cannot compare to a tablet in the hand.

2. Climbing develops coordination and motor skills.

Babies have a basic instinct to move and climb as they grow.  It is a sure indication of their development and growth. Each milestone is exciting, and our task is to help encourage this kind of development. Through climbing, children can also develop their fine motor skills including dexterity, grip and grasp. These skills can be transferred into the classroom when handwriting because children will find it much easier to hold a pen and pencil correctly.

With age appropriate climbing equipment, children are given a chance to hone their spatial and directional awareness as they play. They also get a safe space to improve their balance and agility. This is crucial to their overall physical development at each stage of growth as well as to building strong foundations for the more physically demanding tasks and games of their primary and secondary school careers.

3. Climbing develops problem-solving skills, stimulates memory, hones risk-assessment strategies and builds confidence.

A child’s cognitive development also benefits from providing young ones a space to play and socialise with climbing frames. This happens because the techniques and methods that are used in climbing and playing with these frames helps the child to develop their problem-solving skills, as well as their memory skills. The repetition of both the physical and intellectual decisions made to successfully navigate and climb, solidifies this type of development. On top of that, it boosts confidence and motivation. Having a tangible goal that a child can reach and overcome provides them with a safe environment to push themselves and grow.

Young children may feel nervous when facing climbing equipment for the first time, but through trial and error and safe risk-taking, children will learn to face their fears and begin taking on new climbing challenges every single day. Climbing equipment allows children to manage and assess risk which is an important life skill to learn from a young age. Children will begin to understand when they are doing something that is too dangerous while discovering their limits when overcoming challenges.

4. Climbing stimulates the imagination.

Creativity is stimulated by a playground.  What we see as a simple structure of metal bars is a paradise for children. From fairy tale castles, to pirate boats, the limits of the imagination are endless, and ensures hours of play for our little ones. I have seen many research projects that have concluded that access to playground facilities results in higher performance at school. The findings particularly point to better mathematical, writing, listening and critical thinking skills. This shows that stimulating a child’s imagination has benefits that extend far further than just creativity. .

5. Climbing is GREAT for health.

Hanging and twisting on a KidZplay gym bar

Playing outdoors is great for children’ health. Playgrounds and climbing frames encourage children to be active, thereby improving muscle strength, flexibility, and endurance. Children that are not given the time and option to exercise and play are more likely to be uncoordinated, unbalanced, and under-perform not just in physical tasks, but also in school. Let make a move off those tablets and into the beauty of playgrounds.

Well, the conclusion is certainly that we need to encourage the climbing…maybe not burglar bars but look for a good set of age-appropriate climbing apparatus. That was what started my search for the ‘perfect’ jungle gym the day I found my toddler beyond the burglar bars and hanging from the curtain rail.  Do not let yours get there – it was not a good moment for my heart!

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