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Risky Play – Why it is important

Date: June 7, 2019 Author: hpelc Categories: Advocacy Blogs, Centre Philosophy Blogs, Educators Blogs, Interesting Articles, Parenting Blogs, Reflection Blogs

Written by Sonya Meehan

 

At Handprints, Wentworth Point, the educators try to create an environment where children feel safe to take on new challenges and learn new skills in a safe and supportive environment. Risky play is a natural part of children’s play, and children often seek out opportunities for engaging in challenging and risky play. It provides opportunities for challenge, testing limits, exploring boundaries and learning about injury risk.

 

Concerns over injury and worry about getting the blame for accidents can have an impact on educators and parents ability to feel comfortable providing experiences through risky play. The restrictions put on children’s play are often based on the adult’s perception of what is dangerous or risky rather than individual abilities or giving the children the freedom to judge situations for themselves.

 

Involvement in risky play is important as it gives children the opportunity to access risks and manage situations, which in turn will lead to new learning experiences, such as walking, running, climbing and riding a bike. Each of these activities involves some risks but they are necessary for the development of children and risky play is not different.

 

It is also important to understand that what is considered risky play varies from child to child. For example, one child might be confident to climb safely to the top of a climbing frame, however for another child climbing half way might be considered a risk. This needs to be considered when planning the environment, that there is opportunity for all children to engage in risky play.

 

Some ways in which an educator can encourage and support all the children are:

  • To modify the environment as much as possible to meet the needs of each child.
  • Be aware that some children may need longer to feel confident engaging in an activity, such as balancing or climbing.
  • Encourage the children to help each other. Creating a buddy system to encourage co-operation can help.
  • Simplify an activity, e.g. if a child is too anxious to balance on a high branch allow them to gain confidence by beginning on a low branch.

Some ways in which parents can encourage and support their children are:

  • Remember that accidents happen – It is impossible to make your child totally safe – and accidents can sometimes teach children how to take care of themselves.
  • Let your child make their own judgments- Let them decide whether they are capable of doing something, or whether they are safe. Trust their judgment unless the consequences may be life-threatening.
  • Think before saying no- Your child will seek out challenging activities because they need to. You need to use your judgment and weigh up whether it is crucial to say no – or whether you are saying no out of habit.
  • Take a common-sense approach – You can harm your child by being overcautious, or making them scared of situations or people. They need to know how to keep themselves safe, but they need to develop the confidence to make their own way in the world, too.
  • Weigh up whether the benefit of challenging or scary play is greater than the potential for harm- Challenging play can be good for your child, so think about how likely they are to be hurt – and use this to help you decide what to do or say.
  • Remember that your child is (statistically) at greater risk within your own home – Statistics about accidents show that children are more likely to be injured in their home than outside in the playground or the woods. It is worth bearing this in mind.