Growing up I remember visiting friend’s houses for play dates after school and being so in awe of them because they had climbing frames and I didn’t. In hindsight I did have big apple trees to climb and a host of other outdoor toys but you always seem to want what you don’t have.
We bought Curly his first climbing frame when he was 7 years old, since we wanted quite a big one and couldn’t afford it ourselves we clubbed together with Nanny and Grandad, Auntie E and Uncle J to buy him a big wooden climbing frame that had monkey bars, swings, a slide and a climbing wall on it and our money really couldn’t have been more well spent. From the moment he woke up in a morning to the time he went to bed (exhausted!) at night Curly would be out there climbing around and getting rid of all that excess energy.
Did you know that a climbing frame can be so much more than just something to climb on? It’s a way of letting your child explore their imagination, to us it just looks like a ladder with a few swings and a slide on it but to our children, it can be a vast mountain range or the rigging on a pirate ship. A climbing frame is a place for children to test out their independence, to see exactly what their capabilities are. Of course, they need some supervision to begin with whilst they are finding their feet and it’s always worth investing in decent protective flooring. We used about 20-30 bags of play area bark to give a soft landing if he fell and we have done the same again now that we have a playhouse which is raised above the ground. Children WILL fall so you have to be prepared for such eventualities, there are some really good protective matting suppliers around too.
Beanie Boy began climbing before he could even walk and that is now why we have nicknamed him “The Chimp” because he is completely fearless, he will climb anything he possibly can and worry about getting down later. As a parent sometimes it can be quite hard to sit back and watch, we don’t like to think of our children hurting themselves but at the same time if we don’t let them try things out for themselves (whilst we watch from a short distance) how can they ever know what their capabilities are? Climbing frames are great for building self-confidence, physical strength and imagination. I was also told at a recent visit to Little Bean’s new primary school that climbing and physical activity can improve their handwriting skills because it develops the muscles in their forearms and hands which enables them to hold a pen properly and write. No doubt that is why my handwriting has become so poor in recent years, I spend all my time writing with the keys on a keyboard and when I do finally pick up a pen, my hands and arms ache – time to get on the climbing frame maybe?