If you care for kids or have some of your own, chances are you've had to deal with the climbing-up-the-slide conundrum. Children are often ready to go down the slide on their own at around 24 months, and are liable to attempt going up at the same age. But why? What is it about the slide that beckons kids to conquer it? When you look at all the benefits associated with children climbing up the slide, it’s obvious why kids are drawn to this "taboo" playground activity!
Proprioceptive & Vestibular Systems
Of course, you are familiar with the five senses and how they affect our perception of the world around us. But did you know we actually have more than five? The two you may not have heard of, and the reasons children are attracted to climbing up the slide, are called the proprioceptive system and the vestibular system.
Children climbing up the side stimulates their vestibular system, which includes the fluid-filled parts of the ears that send messages to the brain. The vestibular system is the sense of movement, and it lets us know if we’re moving, how fast we’re moving, and where we’re headed. It provides our brain with information about motion, head position, and spatial orientation. It’s also involved in motor functions that allow us to keep our balance and posture, as well as stabilize our head and body during movement. This system is the most influential of all the senses, as it affects almost everything we do. Balance, coordination, fine motor skills, and even self-regulation all rely on the vestibular system.
Another sense that many may not be familiar with is called proprioception. According to KaBoom, proprioception is a hidden sense, yet we use it every day. It gauges your body's position in space. The receptors for this sense are in our muscles, tendons, and joints, which tell our body where its various parts are in relation to each other. The proprioception sense provides children with very important information that they need to be successful in all types of motor activities. Running, climbing, sliding, and balancing are the most natural ways that children develop their proprioceptive senses.
There are so many other practical life lessons that children can learn from climbing up the slide, such as:
- Risk-Taking - Climb and slide fun promotes risky play. Risky play is exciting to children and requires them to push boundaries, test limits, and see what they are capable of. Knowing how and when to take risks in life is a necessary skill, and risky play in a controlled environment (such as a playground) is the perfect place to start.
- Laws of Nature - When a child goes up the slide instead of down, they will inevitably notice that it’s harder going up than it is down. Similar to the experience of playing with a physics-based toy, your child will quickly learn from going up the slide that gravity only works one way.
- Determination - Not only does climbing strengthen the arms and legs, but it also helps teach drive and determination. It is not an easy feat for children to climb up the slippery incline of a slide – it takes several tries and failures to make it to the top. Children need to learn that, when you fall, you get back up. Climbing the slide is a perfect example of this!
- Problem-Solving - Using the slide in a different way than other children may involve conflict. When your child is going up the slide, other children may want to go down at the same time. This is a great way for children to learn real-life conflict resolution, negotiation, and problem-solving.
- Trust & Self Confidence - When children are allowed to take risks, like climbing up the slide, they learn to trust their own abilities and that you trust them to try. It’s so important that your child knows that you trust their abilities, because that's how they have the confidence to try and learn new things!
Now that you understand the benefits of children climbing, take your little ones outside to play and learn new skills. If their climbing can’t be stopped, they may enjoy a Terra Kids Block and Tackle to help get the rest of their fun outdoor toys to their vantage point, to engage with, and watch them flourish.