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More and more, researchers are discovering the values of one of the most important forms of play for development: climbing. We were born to do it! We are explorers, thrill-seekers, problem solvers, and above all, curious. And we don’t just love climbing for the excitement and challenge – there are biological reasons involved that draw us to it. Climbing helps in children’s mental and physical development and improves creativity, memory, and critical thinking.
1-Climbing develops our spatial awareness, motor skills, and memory
Rock climbing plays a key role in the development of motor skills in early childhood. A study by PlayCore found evidence that climbing at a young age helps refine spatial and directional awareness and also improves physical skills such as balance, hand and foot coordination, and agility.
Using the hands and feet and managing varying inclines, levels, and distances between platforms has been shown to improve children’s proprioception, their ability to sense their own body position and movement in the body. space, and we would be lost without this capability!
In a 2015 study, psychologists at the University of North Florida found that “dynamic proprioceptive activities like rock climbing” can dramatically and quickly improve basic executive functions like working memory. It is essential not only for the processing of information by children but also for the development of general behavioral and motor skills. The study showed that just two hours after the climb, participants’ working memory capacity increased by 50%.
2-Students who climb show higher academic performance
The benefits of making monkeys on Luckey Climbers aren’t limited to coordination and the development of motor skills – children’s performance in the classroom is also seeing an impact. A 2008 study profiled the Phys Ed department at a high school in Naperville, Illinois. They redesigned their gym class schedule, replacing traditional sports activities with activities like dancing, biking, and rock climbing, and it wasn’t long before the school began to see results.
You guessed it – an hour a day of alternative activities, like rock climbing, leads to major school improvements across the school. In addition to higher fitness metrics, the school reported fewer disciplinary incidents and better academic performance among students. The researchers concluded that this type of play was responsible for the measurable improvement in students’ memory, concentration, and mood.
Other school systems have followed suit, swapping their old gymnastics class programs with activities such as rock climbing. One school in western Pennsylvania saw its standardized reading and math scores skyrocket from below average to 18% above average. A Kansas City elementary school reported a 67% drop in suspensions from the previous year and a marked increase in literacy after implementing programs that included rock climbing.
3-Children solve problems by climbing from an early age
If you’ve ever been to a rock climbing gym, you may know that they call routes that climbers take “trouble”. This is because your brain treats the climbing structures as a series of problems that you have to overcome. The same cognitive functions involved in solving puzzles and using logic are at play when climbing.
Climbing at an early age teaches children to adapt to new or unfamiliar environments and encourages goal-setting, determination, and planning. Whether you’re halfway up a rock face, rappelling over a cliff, or rushing up one of our Luckey Climbers, rock climbing is a puzzle waiting to be resolved. It shows children the value of decision-making and follow-through while stimulating logic, memory, problem-solving skills, and focus.
4-When children climb together, they learn lifelong social skills
Rock climbing is far from a lonely endeavor – exploring a structure and making your way to the top encourages cooperation. Rock climbing is also an activity where every achievement is often celebrated, whether it’s to reach the top or just to do something you didn’t know you were capable of. By exploring a climbing structure and working with other children to make their way to the top, many young climbers learn valuable lessons in teaching, listening, and communicating.
When children climb together, they are using the same social and cooperative skills that they will use with friends, at school, and at work later in life. Cooperation builds trust and trust is at the center of any friendship.
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