I stumbled upon this wonderful blog post this morning about letting children learn to climb on climbers without help (you can read the blog, Please Don’t Help My Kids). I agree so much, when Liam was a little younger I always encourage him to try climbing on his own. I did stay by his side, mind you I am talking about when he was 2 years old. Yes Liam has had two falls off climbers resulting in small goose eggs. But you know what, after a hug from mommy, he went right back to the apparatus that he had just fallen off of and continued to master that piece of equipment. He is always so proud of himself when he masters a new skill. I am not saying I don’t help him when he asks. I have given him directions on where he can place his feet to climb, or a good place to hold on to get up top of a climber. If he couldn’t get up on a climber on his own, then the climber is not a safe place for him to be. Community playgrounds are designed with a targeted age range, if a child is not able to get onto the climber then it is most likely not a developmentally safe place for them to play. Children will climb up a climber until they no longer feel safe, then they will climb down. If children are always lifted up, they do not learn to listen to their bodies. So many children are being raise with parents that hover over them, these children are not learning risk taking skills. Later in life when they are learning to drive, they need these important skills. It is scary to think of the scared white knuckled drives that will be on the road in the future.
Not only does a child develop all the important social/emotional skills that Kate Bassford Baker talked about in her post, but climbing also develops strong gross and fine motor skills. Having strong gross and fine motor skills is very important to children. You need strong torso muscles to be able to sit in school. For learning to write you need to be able to hold a pencil (fine motor skills), holding a pencil requires arm muscles which also require torso muscles. Everything in connected.
Of course after saying that, I also think it is equally important to get out and play with your children, and be involved in their play.