Like most young kids, my daughter loves climbing things. In our local playground, she loves trying different ways to climb on different pieces of equipment. One popular piece of apparatus is the climbing frame. These are not only great fun for children to play on, but they also play a crucial role in their physical development, as well as harnessing their creativity.
This content may contain links to products and services. Please assume all such links are affiliate links which may result in me earning a commission (at no extra cost to you).
Climbing frames (or jungle gyms) can help kids build confidence, increase their strength, improve problem solving skills and lead a healthy lifestyle. Let’s look at all this in more detail.
Why is climbing important for toddlers?
Climbing forms an important part of play for toddlers and young children. It helps develop their spatial awareness, motor skills and problem-solving ability. Studies have also shown that it can improve a child’s memory and academic performance at school. It’s also a great way for children to play together, form friendships and improve their social skills.
What are the benefits of climbing frames?
Here are some of the main benefits you toddler or young child can gain from using a climbing frame.
Climbing frames are great for developing fine motor skills. Children have to grip the bars as they move around the frame, which improves their finger and hand strength. This can help with their handwriting as it makes it easier for kids to grip a pen or pencil properly.
- Physical strength
Climbing improves a child’s gross motor skills, developing their sense of balance, core strength and coordination. Using a climbing frame regularly can help with other sports too, such as soccer, basketball and tennis.
Any form of physical activity can improve a child’s overall health, including their wellbeing. Therefore, letting kids have fun on a climbing frame can alleviate some of the symptoms of depression, anxiety, pain and loneliness. It’s in part due to elevated endorphin levels when doing the physical activity, which can reduce stress and improve a child’s mood.
- Communication and social skills
It’s great seeing kids have fun when they’re at the playground, and it always amazes me how they can chat to each other when they’re on a climbing frame a metre or so above the ground! When children are on a climbing frame, it’s a great way to improve their social skills and meet new people.
- Use up excess energy
My 5-year old daughter is literally bouncing off the walls when she stays inside most of the day. Letting your kids have fun on a climbing frame can burn off some of that excess energy (that we all used to have when we were young!)
- Achieve goals
A climbing frame is a great way for your child to set mini targets and see what they can, or can’t achieve quite yet. When they are first using it, they probably won’t be able to climb to the very top, and that’s fine, because each time they return to the playground equipment they’ll keep getting better. Outdoor play on some climbing equipment is a great way for kids to learn from their mistakes and reach their goals.
- Build confidence
Some children might be a little anxious about using an outdoor climbing frame from such a young age. However, each time they return to the equipment, they can do a little bit more, which can give them a big boost to their confidence. Furthermore, if a group of friends are on the climbing frame together, they can encourage each other to try out new things. All of this builds confidence over time.
- Encourage a healthy lifestyle
As parents we’re often told our children spend too much time indoors. In fact, according to a 2016 article in The Guardian, children in the UK only spend half the amount of time playing outside compared to their parents. Outdoor play is essential for promoting a healthy lifestyle, reducing the risk of children developing obesity and diabetes. Climbing frames, along with other fun pieces of playground equipment, are a great way to get kids outside and have some exercise.
Another good feature of climbing frames is that it teaches children to be independent and take risks on their own. In the beginning, you may need to direct them a little, but they have to do the physical and mental effort in moving around the frame. Independent thinking is a vital skill all children need to succeed at school and in life.
- Creative thinking
Climbing frames are a great resource for developing a child’s creative thinking. There are many different ways to climb to the top so children have to use their brain to map out a route, whilst moving their hands and feet between the bars.
Is climbing good for the brain?
Not only does climbing boost your physical health, there are numerous benefits for your brain too. For older children and adults in particular, it can reduce stress, and reduce the affects of depression and anxiety. And for all ages, climbing can improve your wellbeing and brain function (especially with problem-solving skills).
What age are climbing frames for?
Some small and simple climbing frames are suitable for preschoolers and toddlers upwards. But you should find most climbing frames are fine for children aged 3 years and older.
What are the benefits of climbing up slides?
My daughter seems to love climbing up slides at the playground, and like most parents, I always tell her not to do it. It’s mainly because there might be a child at the top of the slide who wants to come down, or if it’s wet and your child has muddy shoes, it’s not pleasant for other kids to get dirty pants when they come down!
However, it turns out there are benefits for kids climbing up slides, some of which are similar to using climbing frames. It can improve big motor skills, including balance, strength and spatial awareness.
Why do kids do it?
Kids see it as a challenge and want to find out if their body is capable of going up a slide instead of just going down them all the time. It’s like they are giving themselves a little experiment!
Yes, climbing can be classed as a gross motor skill. It develops speed, coordination, balance and overall strength.