Climbing Trees was another one of my favorite things to do as a child. For a significant part of my childhood we lived in a small town outside of Santa Cruz, CA called Boulder Creek.
In Boulder Creek there were lots of creeks to play in, and even more tree’s to climb. There we also lots of trees to walk across fallen over dried river beds. It was a wonderful place to get outside & connect.
Get Outside & Connect Activity Week #33 – Climb a Tree
This weeks get outside and connect activity is to get outside and go climb a tree. Please don’t do this activity if you or your child is not comfortable with it. Wait until your child is ready before you offer this activity. When your child starts trying to climb trees this is usually an indication of readiness. Support their first efforts, then step back and allow them to do it on their own.
This tree is in our front yard. It is a small Japanese Maple Tree that my almost 3-year-old daughter attempted to climb a few times before she was finally able to get up into the tree. Whenever she would ask for my help I would say, “If you can’t get up there yourself you’re not ready to climb it.” I could see in her movements that she was not ready, and if I helped her I would be hindering her from learning how to do it on her own.
Finally, the day came that she figured out how to get up the first section with only minimal guidance from me. I could see in her movements that she was ready so I stood close and offered my support and guidance until she became comfortable and confident in the tree moving around.
At that point I sat down and took pictures. Sweet success for both mother and child. There is nothing more rewarding than watching your child develop mastery and gain confidence on their own.
In the photo above you can see my daughter climbing this tree for the very first time on her own. “Look Mom! I made it to the top by myself.” The photos below were taken the next day. Don’t let her tutu throw you off – this girl’s tough!
Mastery complete – of this small tree anyway – the hardest part about climbing trees is getting back down!
Benefits of Climbing Trees
Tree climbing is a risky play activity that has many benefits to the developing child. Kids love the challenge of climbing trees. The physical challenge creates a boost to a child’s self-esteem and the feeling of accomplishment.
There is also a mental challenge to climbing trees. Focusing on “solving the problem” of how to get up the tree creates a resilient “I can do it” attitude when faced with problems, both mental and physical, in the future.
Tree climbing develops:
- hand-eye coordination
- physical strength
- mental strength
- gross motor abilities
- new neural pathways in the brain
Benefits of Risky Play
Climbing Trees can be dangerous, but there are many benefits to children that engage in risky play. With that said please don’t allow your children to do anything that you don’t feel comfortable allowing them to do. Or make them do anything that they are not comfortable with.
Taking risks in play is essential for children’s growth and development. Check out the following articles for more information on the benefits of risky play:
- Risky Play: Why Children Love It and Need It by Peter Gray, Ph.D on Psychology Today
- Outdoor Risky Play for All from Outdoor Learning in the Early Years
- Risky Play Prepares Kids for Life by Adrian Voce on The Guardian
Tips for Climbing Trees
- Wait until your child shows that they are ready to climb a tree.
- Start with small “easy” trees to climb and progress as your child gains mastery.
- Support and guide your child at first. When they gain confidence step back and allow them to do it on their own.
- Don’t ever push, force, or cajole a child to climb a tree.
- Get out of the way. There comes a point when every parent needs to trust their child to do it on their own. Step back and bask in the development of your child’s growing self-confidence.
Climbing trees is a risky play activity with many benefits to the developing child. Start with small “easy” trees to climb and progress as your child gains mastery. Support their first efforts, then step back and allow them to do it on their own.
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Other Articles in the Get Outside & Connect Series:
Other Articles about Climbing Trees
- How Climbing Trees Builds Creative Thinking from Tinkerlab
- 10 Tips for Tree Climbing from Something 2 Offer
- 5 Reasons to Encourage Your Kid to Climb a Tree from Awake Parent
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