By: Tash Hughes of Word Constructions (www.wordconstructions.com)
How many trees did you climb as a kid? Can you remember how much fun it was and what games you played in and around trees?
With the urban sprawl and different lifestyles, I would guess that kids don’t climb trees as much today as they did 5o years ago, or even 20 years ago. And I think it is a pity that kids are missing out on such a simple, fun activity.
Trees to climb
Obviously, children can only climb trees if there are trees to climb. And they should only be climbing if the trees are safe to climb and in safe environments.
But that just means that parents, schools and local councils need to think about trees when planning gardens and parks for children to play in. That is, trees should be part of these play areas and by selecting the right trees in the beginning, adults can make a safe tree climbing environment.
Good climbing trees have branches starting down low so little legs can reach far enough to start climbing. The best climbing trees also have long branches that extend out horizontally so there is room for children to sit and talk or lie in wait as Robin Hood or a panther or sleep for a hundred years or… whatever else their imagination desires.
Safe climbing trees are those with strong, rather than brittle, branches that will happily hold children in the air as they play. Strong trees include cumquats, loquats, oaks, woody wattles (e.g. Accacia elata & Aaccacia melanoxylon), old-fashioned apples and mulberries, whereas apricot, peaches and willows are somewhat brittle and therefore less useful in a children’s area.
Why climb trees?
Apart from the fact, it should be a lot of fun, why should any child be encouraged and allowed to climb safe trees?
· It brings them into direct contact with nature
· It means they are outside being active and getting some fresh air
· It can be a tactile experience touching different barks and leaves
· It develops coordination and strength
· It gives children a different perspective of their world
· Playing games in trees develops creativity
· Mastering a big tree or an adventure within the tree build confidence and self-esteem
· Children interact with others more in a tree than in from of a computer or TV
· It develops attention spans (compared to the rapid changes on electronic entertainments)
· It assists in problem solving skills
· They might find some yummy, healthy fruit to eat
And you know what? Climbing trees does not just have to be for kids... Why don't you climb a tree with them and have some fun, or climb up by yourself and take a different perspective on your life, too?
Tash Hughes is a Mum of two in Melbourne. She is also a writer and owner of Word Constructions. Tash is available to write articles and profiles for any business, as well as doing other business documentation projects. You can see her site and services at www.wordconstructions.com