In the last 6 months going into classrooms I have noticed a strange response to one question. When I talk about trees and explain that our amazing fox snake is quite the climber without those pesky arms and legs. I always ask the students to try to imagine themselves climbing a tree without arms or legs either. Could they do it? The responses that I have been given have really nothing to do with the actual questions itself, but instead I get “I don’t climb trees, my mom and dad won’t let me.” or “They say it’s not safe.”
When I was younger my mom and dad encouraged me to climb trees, I guess that is why I had two broken wrists and a collar bone huh? Don’t worry the wrists injuries were from volleyball, and the collar bone incident was actually from a slide (a man-made structure I would like to point out.) So I would like to ask, what are the apprehensions of tree climbing? Why has it not become a regular past-time for children anymore?
Children perceive climbing as fun and strive to accomplish reaching the highest point possible, overcome challenges and test their abilities. Climbing a tree can build confidence and also develop coordination, problem solving skills, and strength. As children play together in a tree, their social, creative and imaginative skills may be expanded.
Children should be encouraged to climb trees. Playing outside in a tree gives them direct contact with nature and the tactile experience of touching different barks and leaves.
Children also have a natural instinct to be cautious of heights. When climbing a tree, they will learn skills to seek out stable branches to determine the best route to take.
I’m not saying I want your children to climb 100 foot high trees that hang over a pit of alligators or anything, but what I’m saying is that the dangers of being outside have been over exaggerated for many years recently, and I think that those need to be exterminated. There are dangers EVERYWHERE you go, you can’t be afraid, but instead embrace something that may scare you, you may end up loving it in the end.