/ Tips wanted to help my son progress

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Gecko'sMama - on 05 Sep 2018

Hi - my son has been having indoor climbing lessons for a little over a year now.  He's keen to progress but the place he goes doesn't offer NICAS or any outdoor work.  He's young (only 8!) but he really seems to have the bug and I don't want him to lose that interest through becoming bored.  Unfortunately neither Dad nor I know the first thing about climbing so we're a bit stumped about how best to help him move on.  His instructor mentioned the NICAS scheme (which they don't provide at the current place he has lessons), would that be the next obvious step, assuming we can find somewhere locally that provides it?  Many thanks in advance for your help.  

Dandan - on 05 Sep 2018
In reply to Gecko'sMama:

I would suggest NICAS is the way to go, have you looked here for a local wall that does the scheme: https://www.nicas.co.uk/find-a-centre

Andrew Kin - on 05 Sep 2018
In reply to Gecko'sMama:

Why is the lack of NICAS a hurdle?  If he is keen and he is getting instructed by a good instructor then what exactly is the issue.  NICAS is just a structure for teaching and measuring.  It isn't some kind of magic enthusiasm & ability beans.

If anything my daughter found NIBAS boring and I had to take her out of it to maintain her interest in climbing.  While the other kids were chatting and playing she wanted to learn and climb, so she found it extremely frustrating.

What is he keen to progress that his current instructor cant provide

Gecko'sMama - on 06 Sep 2018
In reply to Andrew Kin: That's a very good point, thank you.  I hadn't really thought of it like that, I just don't want him getting bored but he doesn't seem to be yet.  



Gecko'sMama - on 06 Sep 2018
In reply to Dandan:

Thank you, I will take a look at that.

mauraman - on 08 Sep 2018
In reply to Gecko'sMama:

perhaps going to  climb outdoor, when you got the opportunity, could also spark his interest. After all climbing is about going to the mountains (or the oceans, if you climb sea cliffs). One of the best aspects of the sport, beside all the other educational and formative aspects, is that it brings you to stunning places. 

Post edited at 12:41
Flinticus - on 08 Sep 2018
In reply to Gecko'sMama:

I would suggest you also get into climbing, rathet than driving him to lessons and sitting in the cafe.  

I know of a few climbers who got into the sport via their kids. Makes it something you can share and explore together.

RX-78 on 08 Sep 2018
In reply to Gecko'sMama:

Does the place have a youth team/squad? If so see if he is old enough to join.


robert-hutton on 08 Sep 2018
In reply to Gecko'sMama:

I would suggest find a wall with a vibrent youth section so he can find partners to both to climb with and to enjoy the time with, if he just measures progress he will become bored as he is only young and his progress will not always be positive as growth spurts, exams etc will have an effect.

But climbing is more about frendships made then schemes.

flopsicle - on 08 Sep 2018
In reply to Gecko'sMama:

Give climbing a go, it's an awesome community - you just pay it forward. I can't express how much in the way of opportunities my daughter (now 10) has got from my bumbly efforts. 

springfall2008 - on 10 Sep 2018
In reply to Gecko'sMama:

Kids climbing courses (NICAS or not) are a great way for him to climb with friends of his own age.

In my experience while he will enjoy going outdoors you won't be able to do it often enough (e.g. weekly) for him to improve as much as going on a course.


Harrison_Connie - on 10 Sep 2018
In reply to Gecko'sMama:

Perhaps check out Dave MacLeod's "Children's Climbing Book" :P 


I found it very useful :P 

Post edited at 15:43
BrendanO - on 14 Sep 2018
In reply to Gecko'sMama:

Plus one for learning yourself! Most centres will do this as a two- or three- hour course (two centres I work at offer a choice: adult beginner, or parent and child "learn to belay"). It's cheapish, especially if you remember you can then take son (and friend) to climbing walls all over UK, without booking or paying for instructors. Where I am, we let adults in free if they are only belaying and not climbing themselves.

So, reasons FOR doing the course:

-save money

-son can climb whenever you're available

-good bonding experience with son

-take son plus friend; be the cool Mama!

-understand what it's all about

-extra rainy day activity you can do

-you might meet other parents and get into it yrself

- after a while, you could take son "sport climbing" outside!


fifty quid and you're in. Less in some places.


as you can tell, I am constantly trying to get repeat "party", "taster session" or "beginner" parents to learn to belay - useful and cool life skill!


good luck!



Cretan Girl - on 16 Sep 2018
In reply to Gecko'sMama:

My son, now aged 7, has also been climbing for just over a year. I started him out at a kids coached session at our local leisure centre wall. As a result the whole family is climbing now. His Dad first, then me a few months ago. I would recommend giving it a go yourself. We’ve had great fun as a family and are able to climb unsupervised together now. 

Recently my son became frustrated with the coached sessions at the leisure centre wall. The sessions are ‘open’ and most kids his age that turn up are just starting out and therefore not climbing at the same level as him. This means he can’t always climb on the routes that he likes.We have found that he responds best to a structured session, with goals to work towards, in a group of kids at the same stage as him. He is now registered on the NIBAS scheme at our local bouldering wall. Bouldering suits him well and involves less waiting around, therefore less frustration.

He enjoys climbing and bouldering equally and we still top rope together as a family. Usually at the open session for all ages at our local wall. When he gets older, if he’s still keen, we will consider registering him for NICAS so he can persue his roped climbing further. For the moment though it’s mostly about having fun and learning new skills.

Andrew Kin - on 17 Sep 2018
In reply to Gecko'sMama:

Might not be a popular view on here but have you considered BMC YCS?

Your boy is similar age to when my daughter started this series.  We have met hundreds of lovely people, travelled all over the country and even to Austria climbing because of it.  It gives something to aim for, something to measure against and bottom line, its blooming good fun to just climb with similar kids who like to improve.  Cant recommend it enough.

GridNorth - on 17 Sep 2018
In reply to Gecko'sMama:

Bear in mind that progress is not only measured as an increase in grades or am I just being too old fashioned


springfall2008 - on 17 Sep 2018
In reply to Cretan Girl:

I tended to take my daughter climbing outside the courses quite a bit, especially so she could lead climb before the age the courses would allow.

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