Children seem to be born with an instinct to climb! Rock Tots founder, Rachel Briggs tells us how her own experience as a mum, motivated her to create a program that develops climbing and other skills in a fun and inspiring way.
I’ve been a passionate climber over 20 years. I am a qualified climbing coach and an expert in the field of ‘Early Years’ climbing. Physical and mental development in children has been an area of great interest for most of my adult life, having worked with youngsters for much of that time. This interest grew stronger when I had children of my own.
Being the founder of the multi award-winning, developmental climbing programme, Rock Tots, I’ve seen thousands of tiny humans beating gravity and literally flooring their parents, with their climbing abilities.
First Hand Experience
Remembering my own childhood, scaling the tallest trees and clambering hay bales in Norfolk, I had expected my children may do the same, yet it still came as shock when it happened so early.
My son was still very much a baby when he started to climb on the window sills. This was soon followed by attempts to ascend book shelves, sofas, the kitchen table and virtually every available surface within his reach. It felt like every time I turned my back he would be seeking out some new climbing challenge.
It’s true that he was born into a climbing family, but he was nothing out of the ordinary. I saw this drive present in many of his little friends, much to their parents’ disbelief and fear. And when his little brother arrived, this drive to climb appeared even earlier, as he had a sibling to climb with and to look up to.
I tried to find somewhere that would give my children the opportunity to develop these amazing skills and nurture their natural instincts further. I was disappointed when I found no classes that offered this type of experience. It was up to me to create these opportunities for my boys.
My local climbing wall, The Climbing Works, is one of the best and most forward-thinking walls in the UK. It had at the time a small area where I would take my boys to climb. With the right support, my little learners absorbed climbing skills and techniques very quickly and built on their natural ability with great gusto. They would regularly make moves on the wall that adults could only dream of. It was a real pleasure to see this and to see them gaining other unexpected benefits that climbing has to offer.
I wanted to share in mine and my children’s experience, so I came up with the idea of Rock Tots. Rock Tots is a programme that through climbing helps toddlers, children and their families to experience and explore climbing.
I am grateful to Climbing Works for believing in me and my vision, giving me the opportunity to make my ideas a reality. I started the first climbing classes delivering the Rock Tots programme to 1-6 years old, at their newly opened Mini Works. As the programme was refined, the classes went from strength to strength.
It became clear that given an appropriate environment and the right support, parents went from hindering their children’s development because of their own fears, to experiencing the great joy gained from allowing their children to flourish with their new skills.
It is a privilege to give children the opportunity to nurture their natural instincts and enable them to benefit from this fantastic activity, that is so much more than just a sport. To many, climbing kindles a sense of adventure, provides a community and it can blossom into a lifelong passion. Through teaching Rock Tots I am constantly reminded of this and the multitude of other benefits that climbing has to offer.
Benefits of Climbing and the Rock Tots Programme
The physical benefits of climbing such as balance, coordination, strength and agility may seem obvious. However there are also gains such as strengthening pinch grip and other complex skills like spatial awareness and a perception of sequences, which can prove valuable when leaning to write and gaining an understanding of mathematics.
Then there are hundreds of other mental, emotional and social benefits; building resilience, determination, focus, problem solving, patience and self-esteem, as well as supporting one another. Having to push yourself even when scared, coupled with the hard work and failure that goes hand in hand with progress and success in climbing, raises courage and confidence that extends well beyond the climbing wall. This is something we see and hear about very regularly at Rock Tots. Our qualified instructors are able to focus on these areas and develop them further.
Rock Tots’ Feedback
“Your climbing instructors, who are clearly very knowledgeable about climbing, have also been able to focus on our daughter individual needs. They have been building her self-esteem by focusing on her areas of strength and supporting her with the areas she needs to develop. Since bring Eisha to your classes, our whole family have started to climb, and we have turned into quite the active family. But the thing we are most grateful for is that you have sowed the seed of passion in our daughter, her confidence has blossomed and she now wants to practice her climbing skills constantly.”
Nurture Natural Instincts
It is clear to me that nearly every child is born with the instincts to climb. Given the appropriate environment and right support, these instincts can be nurtured into something truly amazing, and something that may well grow into a real passion.
Founder of the multi award-winning climbing programme, Rock Tots, head coach, motivational speaker and mum of two.
Rock Tots is expanding, and more families than ever are able to access our classes at some of the best climbing walls across the country.
If you are interested in bring your little one along so see what we are all about, go to location on our website and choose the closet climbing centres you.
If you are climbing centre and are interesting in delivering Rock Tots at your centre, then please get in contact either via the website or by calling 07789455356.
If Rock Tots isn’t local to you, then to find a list of local venues with climbing instruction or groups for younger children, use our great venue search and filters.