Rock climbing – as exciting as it is for adults, it is mighty useful for kids as well. Climbing can enhance motor skill development in the tiny munchkins. Multiple studies have found proof that climbing helps hone spatial and directional awareness, and also boosts physical skills such as balance, hand and foot coordination, and agility. Read on to know all about rock climbing for kids and how to do to it at home.
Benefits of climbing for kids
Climbing is a fairly challenging activity and requires good balance, limb coordination and also problem solving. Being such a multi dimensional activity, there are hardly many activities like climbing for a child’s development. Children who climb since an early age:
- Have better spatial and directional awareness
- Have better problem solving skills
- Are better at planning and goal setting
- Have a lot more determination towards their goals
- Are good with communication – listening as well as leading skills (even better when they are climbing with other children who support each other)
- Have better working memory and on the spot decision making
DIY at home – Make your own climbing wall
Rock climbing can be very exciting especially when for young children. During the age of 3-4 onwards children love jumping and climbing on things. But in most household their options are limited to jumping on the bed or at the maximum on a sofa. But what if we told you that it’s easily possible to make a rock climbing wall at home? It doesn’t occupy any space and hardly needs you to work beyond 3-4 hours to set it up. You can even have any carpenter set it up if you get the right material. And what’s better it is all available on Amazon.
Here is a list of items that you need to buy from Amazon to build you climbing wall at home:
- Rock Climbing Wall Holds – this is a pack of 10 rock climbing holds and is pretty good for children. You need to buy 2-3 of these in case you want to make a bigger wall. A single pack of these will suffice for a small 4-5 feet tall wall. It comes with it’s own screw set.
- Plywood – 6mm – the climbing holds cannot be put up on a wall directly. You will need plywood first on the wall and on the plywood you can screw in the climbing holds. Don’t go for MDF instead of plywood. That would not be able to hold the climbing holds.
- Wood Varnish For Polish – to make the plywood base look aesthetic, you will need to polish it. I suggest to go for this polish spray as it is avoids the hassles of using a liquid polish. It’s easy to use and clean up after.
- Sanding Paper – while putting up the plywood on the wall and also while drilling the climbing holds in, you will need to make sure that you are sanding off any rough edges or even small shrapnels so that it doesn’t prick the kids
Beyond these you will need some tools to install the setup, mainly a drill machine, a hack saw, a screw driver and a hammer. I assume you would have these things handy already. If not they are also available on Amazon.
Now on to the actual making of the wall, here is a video that does a very good job of explaining how to setup the rock climbing wall. There are a couple of other videos out there but they are slightly more complex installations and hence I used this one to set up our rock climbing wall at home.
Safety tips when setting up rock climbing for kids
Once you’ve setup the rock climbing wall at home, you need to be sure that it is safe for kids to use. First things first, check the entire installation with your weight – it should easily hold you on the wall holds. If you are being able to climb fine, the kids would be ok on the wall. Now beyond the testing of the wall, you should look at some safety equipments to make the activity a stress free zone for kids. Here are the important ones:
- Crash Pad – You can very well use a single mattress (foam based) from your home for a crash pad. A proper crash pad would be expensive and hence I suggest the mattress alternative to everyone.
- Helmet & Elbow Guards – You can use regular helmets and elbow guards used for skating or any similar kid activity. That would easily suffice for climbing as well.
You don’t really need a harness for a wall for kids given it should not be higher than 5-7 feet. Also the wall shouldn’t have any inclines on it so as it make it easier for kids to learn on it. With the wall checked, and the safety gear ready, you now set to set some guidelines around the usage of the wall for your kids. Important things to cover in your personal home guidelines:
- For the first few (maybe 20) times, the kids should climb in your supervision
- No climbing with wet or sweaty hands
- Safety Gear is a must whenever they are climbing the wall
- No heroics on the wall like climbing with one hand etc
- No climbing while watching TV or any other distraction
FAQs about rock climbing
Rock climbing has multiple benefits at a young age, right from better coordination to far superior motor skills. It also improves agility, which is a common deficiency in kids owing to the amount of screen usage and lack of outdoor play.
Starting at 2 to 3 years of age is a good time to start introducing your child to rock climbing. Many become pretty good at it by 5-6 years of age. But perhaps to the amazement of many, kids as young as a year and a half are able to climb like pros.
Certainly! You have to take precautions ofcourse. Make sure that there is proper padding at the bottom of the climbing wall, a helmet, knee and elbow guards. You may also need a harness in case the wall is above 6 ft high. But the better thing would be to avoid such climbs for children.
A small wall – 5-6 feet tall and a couple of feet wide can easily be made in INR 15,000 or lesser. This cost includes the material as well as some technician cost in case you call for a carpenter to install it. In case you go for a bigger wall, you can increase the price proportionately.
We hope this guide was useful to you. Just leaving this video here at the end for you – this is exactly what had inspired me to install the rock climbing wall at our place and trust me the kids have been the happiest about it.