Rock climbing courses for kids
Asia is strewn with fantastic rock climbing locations from Yangshuo in China to Krabi in Thailand. As a result, rock climbing is a popular sport for locals, tourists and their children. There are many different types of rock climbing but the main categories include
- mountaineering. This is generally not practiced by children given it is one of the most dangerous types involving snow and ice.
- traditional climbing where equipment is placed to protect against a fall and then removed when a passage is completed. This type of rock climbing emphasis self-sufficiency, adventure and risk.
- sport or lead climbing which involves climbing a rockface that has pre-placed anchors or bolts. This is a form of free climbing that builds gymnastic-like ability, strength and endurance.
- bouldering which is undertaken without a rope and usually involves short climbs over a crash mat. This activity can occur outdoors on large natural boulders or artifical ones inside gyms.
- top rope climbing is a style that uses an anchor system at the top of the climb to extend a rope to a belayer at the foot of the climb. The belayer is responsible for taking in slack rope to protect the climber so that if they were to fall, it would only be for a short distance. Top-rope climbing is safer, psychologically easier, and less physically demanding than other forms of climbing such as traditional climbing or sport climbing and so most children experience the sport through top-roping.
- free solo climbing where soloists climb alone without ropes, harnesses or protective equipment. This is the most dangerous form of climbing as the climber must rely entirely on their own individual preparation, strength and skill. This is also not a suitable activity for children.
Many climbing courses start from the age of 5 years but it is possible for a child to start younger as long as they are using appropriately sized harnesses and are already comfortable clambering over play equipment. Once ready, children can progress from the playground to a low wall with climbing holds either in an indoor gym or outdoors. Bouldering or climbing low structures is also a great way to adjust to climbing natural rock formations. Next your child can try climbing with a harness and top rope in an indoor climbing class. This is also a good opportunity for them to get used to rapelling which is not an intuitive movement. The final stage to get your child engrossed in rock climbing is to venture outdoors to practice top rope climbing which will teach them the different grading systems for different climbing routes.
The benefits of rock climbing for children include
- aiding problem solving skills, concentration, focus and patience
- enhancing cognitive development
- physical benefits such as improving hand eye coordination and strengthening bones
- protecting against future cardiovascular disease, cancer and metabolic diseases
- adopting an active lifestyle which establishes healthy practices for adulthood
- increasing engagement levels and confidence
- better communication and listening skills
- better quality sleep which improves a child’s resiliency