Risky Play

Why do we advocate risky play at Inspirations?

‘Encouraging children to enjoy challenges rather than to shy away from them, could also increase their persistence and learning abilities.’ – (Dweck 2000)

We are reading more and more to support this view in the paper and in the news. Children are becoming  so mollycoddled and protected that certain traits like independence, resilience, creativity and confidence are being eroded away. It is this erosion of critical life skills that has driven Inspirations move towards our Reggio Emilio inspired approach to learning and our Forest School ethos. Both pedagogies allow for environments rich in learning opportunities including those gained from taking risks and learning to manage those risks.

So, what is risky play?

Risky play is how we allow, encourage even, our children to explore, examine and play within areas, or with equipment, which could be determined as carrying a measured level of risk. Examples of risky play within our Nursery environment would show themselves particularly within our Forest school ethos where children are encouraged to climb, slip and slide in mud, traverse small streams, swing on rope swings and use tools such as hammers and potato peelers for whittling wood.

Of course, measured risk is not limited to our Forest School children, our babies and toddlers have balance beams to traverse, uneven ground to manoeuvre through and even nettles which are purposefully left within our garden as part of our measured risky play policy.

How does risky play help build more resilient, independent confident children?

Taking measured risk gives children the opportunity to fail, learn and adapt processes. It naturally encourages children to be determined and resilient to failure, which in turn shows them the flip-side of failure: success!

It is a beautiful thing to observe children helping their friends, problem solving together, building up their teamwork and communicative skills and showing such compassion, support and encouragement to one another during particularly challenging moments. The beauty is, that each child understands that they may be the supportive one on this occasion, next time though it could be them needing the support of their peers!

Obviously failing can be a stressful, uncomfortable feeling, one which as adults we can fully understand. But it is important that our children are able to manage their stress and know that they have the skills and understanding to overcome it. It’s important that they realise it is a temporary state of mind that, once managed and overcome can in fact lead to great success.

Here at Inspirations children can traverse manageable challenges and are able to experience small levels of temporary fear and stress finding they have ways of overcoming it. This leads to adults who have a balanced view and approach to risk.

Risky play should not be…

..Dangerous! You may have noticed throughout this blog I have consistently used the word measured. This word is paramount when talking about any risk but particularly so when working alongside children. At Inspirations our risk assessments are carried out on a daily basis whether they be in written form or within our day-to-day observations of children’s play and interactions with each other.

We are constantly assessing the levels of risk and putting in place management strategies for those risks. This may be as simple as ‘it’s too windy to go into the woods today as hanging dead wood may fall off trees’ to ‘that piece of equipment is looking worn and needs fixing or replacing’. At all times you can rest assured our team of highly qualified educators are adept and assessing and keeping our children safe whilst at the same time offering all the joys and learning opportunities of MEASURED risky play! Win, win…