One of the things lots of children have in common is that they love to climb. Almost from the moment they can walk children seem to be climbing – up and across furniture, out of their cot, and generally places that make their parents’ hearts skip a beat.
As terrifying as it can be to have ‘a climber’ in the early days, it’s often a really good sign that your little one is going to want to be outside and into everything.
We love climbing frames and wooden swing and slide sets, and we’ve seen so many benefits from taking the children to different parks over the years. Every school holiday we spend a day doing a tour of the local parks, and we try out at least one that we haven’t been to before.
The children always gauge how good a park is by the climbing frames and whether they have a sand pit there – two of their favourite things.
We’ve always tried to have something for the children to safely climb on in the garden, for the days when we can’t get to a park. They have been very lucky to have the use of a set of monkey bars my dad made for them and other outdoor play equipment over the years. I love the climbing frame sets produced by Wickey, the choice of combinations is huge and the age range on lots of their products is really wide, meaning they will be enjoyed for years.
Here’s a few of the benefits of climbing frames:
It means going outside and getting outdoors is healthy
Unless you are at a soft play centre, climbing frames are outside, which means you are encouraging children to play outside in the fresh air. Being outdoors is good for all of us.
We get a good dose of natural vitamin D when we go outside. Vitamin D helps to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. These are the nutrients we need to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy. Something that is especially important for growing children.
Being outside can also have a positive effect on behaviour and improve mental health. generally speaking being outside can make us all happier and less stressed and that goes for children too.
Spending time outside also promotes better sleep and has been shown to reduce inflammation in the body.
Encourages physical movement
We all know that to stay healthy we need to move. That is important for us and our children. Setting a good example to your children in the early years, sets them up for life. By constantly reinforcing the importance of going outside, and giving them these opportunities, you make it a good habit that hopefully they will continue with in later life.
Physical movement keeps our hearts healthy, our joints supple and reduces obesity rates. Physical activity in childhood promotes healthy growth and development. It helps build a healthier body composition, strong bones and strong muscles. It also improves the child’s cardiovascular fitness.
Children who are encouraged to have high levels of physical activity during their childhood are likely to be more active in later life. Physical activity is not just going to organised sports or dance classes, it is playing outside. It’s climbing, running in the garden, playing tag and hide and seek.
Running around in the garden or at a park and climbing on a climbing frame includes reaching, stretching, hanging and cardio.
Develops gross motor skills
Playing on climbing frames can help to develop gross motor skills in children. Gross motor skills are the physical skills which require whole body movement and which involve the core stabilising muscles of the body. Our core muscles help us to carry out everyday activities such as sitting at a table, standing, walking and are also needed for jumping and running.
Climbing frames help to develop these skills because they require agility, balance and coordination. Each time children play they are developing these skills.
Playing on climbing frames helps to develop confidence because children are constantly pushing and challenging themselves to reach higher or climb higher, or to do it all faster.
All of these things build confidence. Children might begin by asking you to help them or hold them, but before you know it they are doing it all by themselves and they don’t need your help anymore.
Being confident in one area has an impact on overall confidence, so you may find this has a knock on effect in other areas of life.
Encourages children to challenge themselves
How many times have you heard your child say something is “impossible”, how may times have you said that? How many things that you once thought were impossible are now possible? Impossible things are just the things we haven’t found a way to do yet.
Through active play like exploring climbing frames children can challenge themselves. Monkey bars that were once “impossible” gradually become possible over time and with practice, and rope ladders that once spun too fast to climb them suddenly become easy.
These are just a few of the wonderful benefits of climbing frames, whether it’s in your back garden or at the park, make time for your children to use them.
This is a collaborative article. All images used are from wickey.co.uk with permission.