Years ago on a lazy Saturday afternoon, I laid back on my couch, grabbed the remote, and perused the TV for something to watch. My daughter, who was two at the time, plops next to me on the couch. She shot me a mischievous smile as I continued to watch TV. In what it felt like a nanosecond later, I glanced up to see a small figure traversing the side of our bookcase. While shocked, and slightly impressed, I darted to the shelf to pull her down. I didn’t understand at the time, but the activity of climbing for young children is natural and is an important part of their growth.
Those of you who have kids know this scenario all too well. Climbing, while frustrating when it’s being done on your oak bookcase, is an essential part of children’s maturation. From time that they can walk, kids have a natural curiosity that drives them to explore and push boundaries. Climbing, whether done at your local climbing gym or on the fun walls of the neighborhood family entertainment center, is a tremendously valuable way to explore that natural curiosity. One that can foster their mental and physical growth.
As part of our mission to improve the health and economic outcomes of the communities we serve, several of the sports facility construction projects that we’ve developed have fun walls or play climb areas. These active entertainment devices provide a fun experience that is similar to indoor rock climbing but features themes such as beanstalks, spider webs, and puzzles. These components are all designed to introduce climbing in an interactive and approachable way.
Below are several health benefits, both physical and mental, that kids can accomplish by taking up climbing:
Climbing teaches problem solving
Each step forward on a climbing or fun wall represents a decision made. With the goal of completing the course and not falling, kids develop problem solving skills by examining climbing problems and their hand and foot placement and determining the best way to move forward. They are also able to take past experience and come to conclusions that help them better tackle the course.
Climbing helps develop motor skills and spatial awareness
As we mentioned at the top, climbing comes naturally to children. Unfortunately, over time, they move away from climbing in favor of other activities. However, it would be advantageous for parents to encourage climbing in control environments as research indicates that it can enhance motor skills like gripping and grasping items. Climbing also helps develop better hand, foot, and eye coordination as well as build a sense of balance.
Climbing builds confidence
Nothing feels better than completing a difficult task. Rock climbing gyms and fun walls at FEC’s help children achieve that feeling and build confidence by having the experience of seeing a course and its obstacles and using their problem-solving ability to complete it. And while traditional rock-climbing walls can be challenging for beginners, fun walls allow participants to learn the activity in a less daunting way. As kids conquer fun walls, they gain the confidence to take on bigger challenges and grow in their competency.
Climbing increases physical strength
Last, but not least, children who climb become physically stronger. Climbing can be taxing initially, but over time, the muscles needed to successfully traverse courses, primarily legs, arms and core muscles will develop. This too builds confidence and along with increases in hand-eye coordination can translate to better performance in other sports.
The team at Sports Facilities Development has provided venue planning services for numerous facility development projects that include active entertainment components such as fun walls. To learn more, contact us at 727-474-3845.