Do you climb trees? Do you let your kids climb trees? We do. Sometimes, as the mom, it makes my heart nearly pound out of my chest to see my boys climbing in their rubber boots higher than is comfortable for me. If only they'd love their tennis shoes as much as their rubber boots. However, I know that by climbing trees they are developing skills throughout the whole experience. They are working together, making personal judgments on how high is too high and making plans to accomplish their goal. In the picture below, CJ's goal was to pick a pine cone. If you've ever learned anything about pine trees you may recall that pine cones only grow in bunches at the top of the tree. *Insert heart pounding for mom here.* They are testing their own strength and their limits. They are building their confidence as independent thinkers and achievers. They are developing their coordination, problem solving skills and strength. They have direct contact with nature and are experiencing a sensory activity that changes with every tree. They are accomplishing everything a TV cannot provide. This is why we climb trees. Sure, there may be several scratches along the way and a broken bone is always a possibility, but if they don't test their own limits they won't know for themselves what they are really capable of.
In my yard there isn't a great climbing tree. We have one ash tree out front that would be okay, if only we could reach the first branch (about 9 feet up). Through the winter we tend to make it to the park less (mom hates the cold) so we rigged a climbing rope to the tree and aim to try climbing whenever we can. We had our friends over the other day and everyone decided they wanted to give it a try. A helmet is required for this type of climbing since the tree hangs over the sidewalk and street and swinging into the tree is true concern. It was interesting to watch how they all saw the first person try it and they all tried the same way. They would stick their foot in between the two sections of rope and stand on the first knot. No one made it past the first knot. Something about gravity pulling down the rope messed that one up. :) But they all tried it none the less. We keep practicing and as our muscles begin to develop the strength needed I hope someone will eventually make it to the first branch and be "King of the Tree!" Wouldn't that be encouraging to the rest?