Toddlers and young children grow so quickly, but parents and guardians always want to help them as much as possible in learning about the world and growing into healthy human beings.
When most people with children have such hectic day-to-day lives, finding wholesome ways to do this can be difficult, but there’s a piece of equipment that could be the solution – a climbing frame.
If you’re thinking about buying some outdoor play equipment to help your child stay fit and strong, and want to know more about the benefits of climbing frames, you’re in the right place.
Keep reading to learn seven reasons why climbing frames are good for children, and how they can give you some peace of mind as a parent or guardian.
1. Doing physical exercise
Everyone knows that physical exercise is essential to prevent obesity and reduce health risks such as heart disease, diabetes, and weak bones (osteoporosis). This is especially important for children and their growing bodies, as their physical development and habits formed in childhood will affect them for the rest of their lives.
The NHS recommends that children under 5 years old should do at least 180 minutes (3 hours) of physical activity a day, while kids aged 5 and above should be doing at least 60 minutes (1 hour) of physical activity every day. These targets can be difficult to reach if a child is cooped up inside all day, staring at a screen instead of going outside.
Outdoor play equipment provides more space and opportunity for physical movement. Not just climbing, but a variety of activities like swinging, sliding, and jumping provide a workout for different muscles all over the body. Having an outlet to expend energy this way also means that kids will be tired out afterwards, helping them to sleep better, too.
2. Getting Vitamin D from sunlight
Vitamin D is one of the many nutrients needed for healthy bones, teeth, and muscles. Without it, there is high risk of developing bone deformities such as rickets, in addition to heart disease and cognitive impairment. Weak and painful bones can cause countless problems into adulthood.
However, since we mainly get Vitamin D from direct sunlight on our skin, it can be difficult to make sure we’re getting enough. This is especially true during seasons when there is less sunlight, as many people do not get enough Vitamin D in their diets and could develop a deficiency.
As children’s bones are still growing, allowing them to play outside in the sun is vital for their healthy physical development. Of course, you should make sure to apply sunscreen that’s at least SPF30 on any exposed skin before allowing children to play in direct sunlight, and make sure they’re staying hydrated in warm and sunny weather while exerting themselves on the climbing frame.
3. Conducting risk assessments
Active play on an outdoor climbing frame gives children a safe place to experiment with taking risks. Learning to assess and manage risks is an important life skill, and climbing frames can help children to develop these skills early so they can apply them in different situations.
Climbing and exploring the different ways to play on the structure encourages kids to test their limits, learning to make judgements on which movements to make and which new routes they can try. This also helps children to develop their critical thinking skills.
Exploring and testing their physicality in a supervised environment, with the support of an adult who can teach them how to play safely by themselves, can also boost children’s self-esteem and sense of independence. This then makes them feel more confident with new experiences as they grow.
4. Learning motor skills
Children start developing their motor skills as soon as they can crawl and walk, training their muscles to move in the right ways and improving their strength. There are climbing frames available for children of all ages, and the relatively low-impact exercise they provide is a great way for kids to learn body control and spatial awareness.
Movements such as pulling and pushing, jumping and landing, swinging and stretching, and more can all strengthen muscles while improving co-ordination and agility. Not only do climbing frames help kids with their balance and larger muscle movements, but climbing especially can lead to children developing a stronger grip and increased finger dexterity.
This will come in handy in other areas of life, as fine motor skills are needed for activities such as buttoning clothes, writing, and using sports equipment. Everything from holding a pen to tying shoelaces becomes much easier when kids are more flexible and dextrous.
5. Improving communication
If you have multiple children, or your child’s friends often come round to your house to play, having a climbing frame to occupy them offers many opportunities for improving their social skills. Playing with other children allows them to develop language skills through discussing which games to play or tasks to complete, and encourages them to express ideas and emotions.
Some features of a jungle gym teach children how to take turns fairly, while collaborative elements teach them the value of teamwork, including problem-solving and how to trust and support each other. Group play is not only fun for all the children involved, but also helps them to learn responsibility for their actions as individuals within the group.
There are many ways to use climbing frames for collaborative play, and even if children make up competitive games – such as obstacle courses or treasure hunts – it’s all part of learning about healthy competition and fair play.
6. Inspiring imagination
Outdoor climbing frames encourage both physical adventure and creative ways of thinking. Forget waiting for free playground rides at the park – a climbing frame gives kids their own private playground, and lets them explore countless different worlds without even leaving your backyard.
Depending on the design and features you choose for the structure, a climbing frame can become whatever children want it to be. A cottage or castle from a fairy tale, a pirate ship on the high seas, a rocket ship blasting to outer space, a fort in a medieval fantasy, overgrown ruins in a far-off jungle – the possibilities are endless, and only limited by their imagination.
Self-initiated play also motivates children to challenge themselves and encourages self-belief, all while stimulating their creativity and helping them to enjoy the outdoors at the same time.
7. Reducing stress
While advancements in technology certainly have many benefits, one of the downsides is the excessive amount of time we all spend in front of screens. This applies even for young children, who can also spend hours a day looking at televisions, smartphones, tablets, or computers.
The negative effects of these habits on our health have been well-documented, to the point where some experts recommend having ‘screen-free’ days or setting a daily ‘screen time’ limit. Modern life is so busy and stressful that most of us turn to TV or video games for relief, but this isn’t always healthy – so directing kids outside to play on a climbing frame is a great alternative.
Exerting physical energy, breathing in fresh air, and being surrounded by nature while concentrating on climbing activities is a much healthier outlet for stress and frustration. Producing mood-boosting endorphins and reducing the production of the stress hormone cortisol helps children to relax and simply have some fun.
Climbing frames keep children active and healthy
So, there you have it – seven of the many ways that climbing frames are good for kids. The bottom line is: if you’re looking for a way to get children moving and thinking, and encourage healthy development, climbing frames are one of the best options for outdoor play.
The fundamental skills that children learn while playing on jungle gyms, whether alone or with siblings or friends, will serve them well throughout their childhood and into adolescence as they continue to grow. Maintaining physical, mental, and emotional health is one of the most important parts of child development, so why not invest in an outdoor climbing frame for your family?