Winter means hitting the climbing gym. For us, that’s PRG, Valley. We are lucky enough to have the ability to take our two year old and almost-four year old to the gym (PRG is quite open to kids of all ages being on the gym floor). Check with your gym on age limits, and when you need to start paying. For the most part, it seems that each gym has a kid’s wall (or an area where smaller kids can climb best with low angles, smaller holds (for smaller fingers), and more hold density (for the height impaired).
At what age can kids start climbing? Well that number is all over the place and depends specifically on the child’s interest and physicality. Technically, they can start grabbing onto the wall as soon as they can walk. Once they show an interest in trying to get up the wall, they are ready to start experimenting. That often just means making a move or two before losing interest. My kids tend to like to climb without roping up. . . they are just “boulderers” at the moment. They might put on the harness, but they never seem to go any higher than they would without a rope – and the harness is merely an excuse to hang from the floor and swing around while mommy and/or daddy hold them suspended. Still, my niece (age 5) took to it like a monkey, while her older sister (age 8) was interested, but didn’t quite have the “no fear” mentality or the physical affinity for it. She stubbornly persisted and could develop the strength and skill needed over time but it didn’t come quite as naturally to her.
What does all of that mean? Kids may or may not take to climbing at any age from 18 months to . . . .whenever. Interest and ability is completely dependent on the child. Parents can certainly encourage and/or push a child to climb but I believe that results can provide mixed results with outcomes of creating a prodigy climber (climbing a 5.12 at age 12) or hating the experience. So far, we’ve opted to hang out at the gym with our kids, getting in as much climbing as possible for ourselves, and letting them decide when they want to grab the chalk and climb the wall.
What has your experience been in creating a love of climbing in your children?