School holiday ideas for active kids – Parkour, Indoor Rock Climbing & Circus School

School holiday Ideas for active kids - Parkour

Parents are often looking for new active school holiday ideas for active kids outside the typical sports on offer. Here are three activities to give your athletes a break from it all and to simply enjoy the fun and challenge of a new activity – Parkour, Indoor Rock Climbing and Circus School.

Parkour – for the agile and adventurous 

What is it?

Parkour is the act of finding the most efficient path and moving as quickly as possible from one point to another, making use of the obstacles to assist in your momentum. The concept is to use your body and mind to run, climb, jump and vault over obstacles by overcoming all physical and mental challenges.

What does it involve?

Have you seen the movie “Divergent”? You know how the Dauntless faction gets around by running, climbing and rolling everywhere? That’s parkour!

Parkour methods involve running, crawling, jumping, climbing, and other methods of catching yourself, grabbing and hanging, rolling and balancing, applied in any environment.

There are first timer courses and kids courses available (from around the age of 5 years old). You can find more information at the Australian Parkour Association or State affiliated body.

Key benefits

Parkour is a full body workout. It develops strength and fitness, balance and coordination, spatial awareness, agility, speed, control and precision. As you are constantly negotiating obstacles with the need to move as quickly as possible, parkour also develops thinking skills, mental toughness and instincts whilst enjoying and discovering the environment. It aims to build confidence, determination, self-discipline and self-reliance.

Our experience

My youngest daughter and husband attended a First Timers class with Melbourne Parkour in Southbank one Sunday. The beginner class involves learning basic fundamentals like how to run on your forefoot only – no heels!, how to balance, crawl and jump down walls, climb barriers, how to parkour roll and flip over railings! The session ran for about 2 hours and was a great introductory class to give a taste of what is involved in parkour.

Even though my husband enjoyed the experience, he found that his limited flexibility would be a disadvantage moving onto harder manoeuvres. As a gymnast, my youngest daughter of course, found it fun and exciting being able to climb, jump, and flip around Southbank! She’ll be back for more…no doubt with mum next time!

Indoor Rock Climbing – for the explorer of heights

What is it?

Indoor rock climbing offers a controlled environment to climb up rock-like artificial structures giving the experience of outdoor rock climbing.

What does it involve?

All climbers wear harnesses that attach to climbing ropes to support them. There is also another person (belay) holding the rope for the climber. Bear in mind that a belay usually needs to be around 11 years or older, so if your kids are younger you may need to belay for them. You can go as a belay only and not climb too. It’s not hard so don’t be put off. You are taught what to do to ensure your kids are safe. Children can usually participate from age 4 and up (Please note that indoor rock climbing centres may vary on policies). Indoor rock climbing is a great school holiday idea, particularly in the cooler months.

Recently, a new and varied concept of indoor rock climbing has been developed called Clip ‘N Climb.  It’s a bit like an indoor rock climbing theme park with the basic concept of climbing walls but each wall a little different with an individually themed challenge (see photos below). A benefit here is that human belays aren’t required as climbers clip directly onto ropes connected to automatic belays! Yes, mums and dads can relax and just watch here if you prefer!

Benefits

As a physical workout, indoor rock climbing uses upper and lower body muscles, tests flexibility, and uses stamina for longer climbs. It also requires a bit of strategic thinking, analysis and patience to find the best holds to make the way up the wall.

Our experience

Both my girls enjoy indoor rock climbing and usually go at least once a year. They have been indoor rock climbing for quite a few years now. My youngest daughter even had an indoor rock climbing birthday party – a big hit with all the kids!

More recently they have also been to Clip ‘N Climb which they have loved as it offers a new range of variety in the types of climbs and includes other activities such as the leap of faith. Fun for kids of all ages!

Circus School – for the playful!

What is it?

Ever wanted to run away with the circus? You need to learn the tricks of the trade first at a Circus school holiday program!

What does it involve?

At circus school you can learn anything from trampoline, tightwire, tumbling (such as forward rolls and handstands through to backflip and somersaults), acrobatics, acrobalance (building human pyramids), hula hoops, juggling, uni-cycling and diablo using the ground equipment. On the aerial equipment you can try flying trapeze, static trapeze, aerial ring, rope and tissue.

And if holiday circus school is a big hit, there are term programs at most centres. For the more serious circus hopefuls, there is also the opportunity to join the Fruit Fly Circus! It is Australia’s only full-time circus school for children aged 8-18 years old.

Benefits

Physical benefits of kids’ circus classes include improved hand-eye coordination, balance, strength and flexibility. Kids will also develop essential life-skills, including self-confidence, teamwork and trust. There are so many activities try at circus school that there is no chance of boredom! You can usually join in circus school from as little as 3 years old!

Our experience

My youngest attended a few school holiday programs when she was younger (around 9-10 years old ) and really enjoyed them. A few years ago, my eldest had her 12th birthday party at the National Institute of Circus Arts (NICA), which included a variety of activities from trampolining, tissue, acrobalance and trapeze, which was a great fun for all!

Check out more ideas for school holiday and family activities here.

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