Most folks probably tend to initially consider the physical benefits of a Climbing Tree–grasping, pulling, pushing, reaching -large and small muscle development and etc. However, there is also a lot going on cognitively when kids are climbing trees –mapping, planning, divergent thinking and spatial reasoning. Added to that are some emotional capacities that are strengthened as kids take risk, push limits and build resiliency -the accompanying self-satisfaction and feeling success –kids are literally ‘climbing to new heights’ and often facing fears. Success is a key emotional experience we want kids to have, as it drives motivation and willingness to take on challenge. Social skills development –cooperation and collaboration, engaging in shared experiences are also benefits.
The Children and Nature Network, the first link has some data/research related to benefits of natural outdoor play. For folks who have a hesitancy to let kids climb trees, usually it is a fear of risk. There is data in one of the links suggesting more kids are injured falling out of bed. There are also more injuries sustained on manufactured playground equipment than in natural play spaces.
TreesLouisville has access to this gorgeous Climbing Tree that is approximately 35 years old. It is a Contorted European Beech (Fagus sylvatica ‘Tortuosa’). It is 25 feet wide all around and about 15 feet high. It won’t get much bigger, but it will continue to sprawl in width and increase in branch girth. It is our fervent hope to plant this tree in the fenced playground for the Pre-K children that attend Maupin Elementary’s Early Childhood Development Center. Maupin serves high need students, more than 90% on Free and Reduced Lunch. It is a new JCPS School of Innovation-A Waldorf Inspired Catalpa School. It is located in the Parkland neighborhood on Catalpa Street.