Risky Play: The Business of Early Childhood

As we approach the mid-point of the year and notice how confident and secure the children are in our environment I have paused to reflect on why that confidence has grown.

I think it's fair to say that the number one reason is the safe, secure and trusting relationships that have been built amongst the children, families and educators. Those relationships are what define and make our centre so very special.

A further reason, I believe, relates to the environment that we provide. Our learning environment is based on the premise that we aim to encourage children's engagement, curiosity, problem solving, independent exploration and appropriate risk taking.

In order to fully understand this we need to explore the difference between a RISK and a HAZARD.

A risk is something that is possible to negotiate and may be appropriate for particular situations and children. This is what we aim to provide.

A hazard is something that is inherently dangerous and needs to be remedied, such as a climbing structure with sharp edges or loose boards that could seriously injure children if they play on it. We have well developed risk assessment practices to ensure that our environment is safe.

And let's face it; our children are growing up in a world that is very "risk aware" and as the significant adults in their life we do our outmost to minimise any risk to them. This often means however that they are not able to develop or practice their internal risk assessment processes. This is the skill they need to meet the demands of their environments. If we provide all the solutions for them they never learn to discern for themselves what is safe.

That is what we do so well. We provide an environment that allows them to take risks in a supportive and safe environment AND that is why we see the emergence of confidence in the children.

The words of Roald Dahl summarise it well,

"The more risks you allow your children to make, the better they learl to look after themselves." - Roald Dahl.

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