Wednesday, June 16, 2010

let them climb trees part 2

Let Them Climb Trees reads the headline in this article on Richard Louv and the movement to connect  children with nature.    

Well Mr Louv, your wish is our command!  It seems that after half a year of thoroughly exploring the wonders of our bush trail at ground level, the kids are heading UP:

Kids love to climb. 
Children have a thirst for adventure and challenge. This is evident from their earliest efforts to crawl and walk, and can be seen throughout childhood.

Kids love to climb trees.
Trees offer children climbing challenges that commercial play equipment may not.  Research indicates that children actually prefer play that involves natural materials and these encourage more involved and sustained play.

Kids need challenges

Children need to be given the chance to have a go’, try new things, and face a challenge.  This at times, may involve trips, falls, and some tears.  

However, it is these experiences that make sure children continue to learn and have the confidence to ‘try again’. 
Climbing trees helps children to develop:

upper body strength
cordical hand grip (used in writing)
a sense of what their bodies can do
problem solving
Climbing trees helps children to form connections to nature

Who is going to be bothered looking after the planet if there's no one left with any understanding of, interest in or connection to their natural environment?
If you enjoyed reading this post you might enjoy reading my previous post, Let them climb trees.


  1. While I have many fond memories of climbing and playing for hours in the apple trees in my friend's yard, the teacher in me worries about the litigiousness of so many parents today. The fear of lawsuits is a bit more powerful than the dream of children having the experience of tree-climbing... on my watch, anyway... wish it wasn't so.

  2. One of the reasons we bought our house was because it has an amazingly good laurel for climbing. =)

  3. Tom, we are really careful to ensure the safety of the kids at all times. Tree climbing only happens when we have a really small group of kids in the bush, and extra hands and eyes in the form of parent volunteers. We need a couple of people at the tree, as well as someone watching the other children. To my knowledge, we haven't even had a scrape.

    We also know the kids really well - what they are capable of - what they may be prone to do. Plus, as you can see they don't get very high.

    In my experience with kids and climbing (anything) they have a pretty good understanding of what they are capable of themselves.

    Plus we have a rule that if you don't think you can get down, don't get up.

    Personally, the watching kids hang upside down from a trapeze or monkey bars sends more shivers down my spine.

  4. Sorry, that comment was actually for Marilyn :)

  5. Jenny, I was fascinated by the comment that research shows children prefer to play with natural materials. Do you know the source? BTW, I adore your blog!

  6. Hi Lisa: I have been reading this in a number of sources, but I can't remember them all! One is a book called "The Outdoor Playspace Naturally" edited by Sue Elliot.

    Then there is this article:

    Juliet from I'm a teacher get me outside of here has loads of bookmarks in her sidebar that could be useful:

    And this might help:

    When given the opportunity, children choose, and enjoy playing in natural environments and/or with natural elements (Hart 1979; Moore 1986; Titman 1994; Chawla 2002; Heerwagen and Orians 2002; Burke 2005; Spencer and Blades 2006). They do so because of the overwhelming play potential of such spaces: the possibilities of now and the promise of more to come (Cobb 1977).

    It is from a factsheet on children's play in natural environments:

    In my recent post about cubbies, I also read some stuff about how children prefer natural cubbies than man made ones. I remember the reference was Kirkby (1989)

    Hope this helps.

  7. Just read your climbing trees post. So true how they love to climb. Mine love to climb, although we have to look for trees such as oaks that they can climb, as palms aren't really the climbing type.
    there are two parks in the city that have great outdoor playspaces for climbing.
    Well, as always, thanks for sharing.

  8. I think children climbing trees is a great thing. Alas, my coworkers put an end to it because they didn't want to get close enough to supervise it. Their chairs were just too comfortable. A shame.