From the way you watch the little ‘monkey’ kids scale the playground and all possible vertical structures at home, we may concur that children are natural climbers.
The question then is, why do children climb?
Why do children climb?
There are many reasons.
Children climb for fun, for the challenge and for success. They climb to explore, gain new perspectives and to learn. They climb to compete and respond to challenges and encouragements.
They learn by climbing which benefits them not just in terms of skill acquisition and fitness but also mental health and cognitive development. It also offers them the opportunity to give in to their natural instincts to explore, seek and touch their surroundings.
Is climbing suitable for toddlers and kids?
Babies crawl and grab everything at reach, those who are parents would know. Toddlers walk and attempt to navigate around or even overcome obstacles they meet. Grabbing, reaching, touching, crawling, sitting, standing and eventually climbing. These are natural and developmentally appropriate physical movements.
However, while our climbing skills are natural at birth, how much growth and the development of these early skills is dependent on our use and conscious application as we grow older.
In this modern age, how many of our kids are still developing their physical acute senses, or more of addicted to their phones and online games.
Climbing in a safe environment
A few years ago, climbing was generally seen to be something older kids may attempt and even a sport for the more affluent crowd. Now, there are several gyms in Singapore that offer beginner classes for young and not so young climbers. As the supply increases, prices become more affordable as well.
There are some climbing gyms in Singapore such as The Rock School, Let Em Play and Climb Central, which specialises in creating a safe and supportive environment with programmes specially designed to help enhance a young or very young climber’s motor skills while offering up healthy challenges along the way – with age-appropriate curriculum to avoid injury.
During the early stages of climbing, the environment should be carefully assessed for safety and activities carefully monitored by adults. Unsafe objects are removed or stowed away, and all teaching materials are carefully considered.
Key Benefits of climbing
While engaging them in employing cognitive skills in using techniques to develop their climbing skills, these rock climbing programmes also carefully consider age-appropriate training. For one, our training sessions are structured and progressive. For example, we would strongly discourage the use of fingerboard training until a child is deemed strong enough to first carry his or her own bodyweight first. This is to avoid finger pull tears which is one of the most common injuries for even the adult climbers and one that is hard to treat.
1. Increases Strength, endurance and balance
The most obvious benefit of climbing is the total body workout which helps to strengthen the arms, legs and core. Through the progression of each climb, the climber’s endurance gradually builds up. Balance plays an important part as well. To maintain a stable position on the wall, climbers must constantly find equilibrium as climbing requires many complex movements and body tension.
2. Developing Motor Skills
Children can walk on flat ground with ease. However, climbing on the wall is taking it to a whole different level and platform, it is also a great way to develop a child’s motor skills. Completing a climb may look simple to a bystander but it takes coordination to get to the top. Children will be able to learn to coordinate their hand-eye and feet through finding the next hold to move towards to. It is also a great way for them to learn about their body movements on the wall and learning to distinguish their left and right.
3. Overcoming Fears and boosting Self-esteem
It is not a surprise that some kids are a little afraid of heights, some may be overwhelmed. However, stepping outside their comfort zone step by step by moving up the wall will help them overcome their fears gradually. In time, these small victories will boost their self-esteem and confidence as they start to enjoy the climb.
Most commonly seen in the climbing gym, are kids saying, “I cannot!” when their sudden realization of fear sets in. Nonetheless, they are still curious and thus, through encouragement and incentives, they are willing to try going to greater heights.
4. Problem-solving skills, Goal setting and Planning
Often, kids get stuck on the wall unknowing what their next move should be, but with a little nudge and guidance, they end up solving the problem using the skills they come up with as the next best move.
With a visual goal of the route difficulty they would like to accomplish, it drives them to push themselves knowing that they have the skill set to achieve what they have set their minds on and with that said, planning their moves on the wall through visualisation will help to come up with a few possible ways to complete their climb.
Some may say that climbing a route is just like solving a puzzle, so physical exercise aside, cognitive comes in to play too!
5. Climbing Builds Character
Failure is an inevitable part of climbing and when kids fall, we ask them to get up and try again. It teaches them to be resilient when they face an obstacle or get stuck at a crux. Climbing is also a sport that needs patience, not only on the wall, but also in the progression of every child, be it fast or slow. Children will learn how to trust themselves on the wall as well as the people who are aiding them in their climbs.
Give your kids the chance to reach greater heights – both physically and mentally. The journey to climbing takes a single grasp on the rock!
Interested in getting your child onboard some rock climbing classes?
Well, fret not, coz there are some really cool courses available just for your kids right now!
The Rock School is running a Step Up Coaching Programme for kids and we have a special deal with them.
Special Classes Rate for LydiaScapes Readers
Just for my readers only, if you quote the code #LYDIASCAPES when you enroll your kids with them via email, they get to join it at a very special rate of SG$185 Only!
- Step Up Coaching Programme For Kids
- 4 Lessons by Trained Professionals
- Special Rate: $185
- Find out more about the detailed Step Up Coaching Programme here.
If you have any more questions, feel free to let me know in the comments below and you can sign up today!