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Climbing starts from before a child can walk and helps children's mind and bodies learn to work together. Climbing starts from an early age before a child can walk. Climbing is an important skill as it shows the child's ability to plan and problem solve as they learn how to manage their bodies on unfamiliar and uneven surfaces. It is also great for developing upper body and hand strength.

Teaching tips

Keep young climbers safe by:

  • Set-up and encourage children to engage in safe and age-appropriate climbing opportunities with mats and soft surfaces
  • Secure heavy furniture to walls or block off access
  • Set clear boundaries for older children to limit the height they climb to e.g., place a red tie around a tree at the upper limit they can climb 
Developing Climbing through play

Initially around the ages of 8-9 months babies will:

  • Attempt to climb on stairs, people, and furniture, however they don't have the skills to get down from these places

Around the age of 10-12 months:

  • Babies will crawl and then climb up/over objects that are in their way to find a toy
  • They can now start to look behind them and lower themselves down from places backwards. They do this by sitting down, turning themselves around, and then climbing down backwards, feet first
  • At this age, they start to develop the problem-solving skills of what is safe and what isn't, however close supervision is still needed!
  • Babies enjoy stair climbing and love being given opportunities to practice

Providing children with opportunities to explore obstacle courses or play equipment on the ground is a great way to safely allow your child to develop climbing skills. Create obstacle courses of cushions, tunnels and solid boxes. Role model and support children as they learn safe ways to climb e.g., climbing down ladders backwards. 

  • Support children to explore safe climbing opportunities
  • Encourage and support children to safely descend from places they have climbed up to
  • Play Hula Hoop Car Trip and go drop your hoops and go on a 'road trip' up a ladder and down a slide

The outside environment is a great place to foster motivation for climbing. Trees, playgrounds and skate parks allow children to climb and explore in a way that is comfortable to them. Conquering these structures will help your child to develop strength and confidence, however ensure your child knows they are safe and supported should they need help. 

For older children encourage safe climbing with:

  • Low monkey bars with mats placed underneath them - support children initially to hang and then drop safely
  • Climbing frames and walls with appropriate soft fall surfaces underneath
  • Trees with an upper limit where children can climb too
  • Use weighted boxes and tyres to build climbing adventures alongside children

More climbing activities

Balancing, Jumping, Hopping, Skipping, Climbing