Thank you to Richard Cheetham MBE who wrote this article through the eyes of his daughter to help us understand what it feels like being a child and what creates a really successful learning environment. Many great messages in here for both parents and coaches to take away in creating the very best experiences for our sporting children.
I feel safe when I climb, really safe. And it is not just the crash mats to land on if I fall or because of the harnesses and proper shoes I use. No my daddy makes me feel safe. He is the one that I know is always there to support me whatever happens. Never raises his voice just words of encouragement, different from some other parents who often shout. I wouldn’t like that at all.
I ask him what it was like playing sport when he was younger and he said that his coach told him learning was like making a cake. Get the right ingredients and everyone can enjoy a nice tasty slice with an appetite for more.
The recipe was made from things you can’t find in the supermarket. Add plenty of enjoyment with a touch of fun and laughter – after all which coach wouldn’t include these! This doesn’t mean it won’t be without challenges – I mean this week I nearly reached the top of the green route climb although I went higher than last week. The cake includes confidence. Confident to try new things and to use the confidence I got from achieving things I didn’t think I could. Dad talks a lot about effort, as long as I try my hardest I don’t worry about what others do. He says “what can you do now that I couldn’t when I first started?” I have a long list!
I feel secure however high I climb and when I fall my confidence dusts me down and I begin again knowing that this is all part of learning. Each week I try new skills, face challenges within my reach (when my arms grow longer I can reach the final hold on the purple route!). These skills will be really useful outside and in other sports I do. I never seem to stop, plenty of activities – we are always busy doing something that helps us and no one is left out. It’s great to work with my friends. We have our own little community and my grip on the boulders is as strong as the friendship we have built. One day we will climb real mountains and create more memories. My Daddy climbed a big mountain in Africa and the photos look amazing. He often just watches, let’s me find my own route and get me to think of things that may help. I made up something the other day where I imagined I was an icicle and had to remain still until the sunshine melted me and I jumped to the floor! We play a lot of games, make up ideas and always look forward to next week. I think I will always do this.
I wonder if my friends who do other sports would write the same as me.