News And Events
Taking Risks in Early Childhood Education1 October 2014
Within the early childhood field, play has long been acknowledged as an important context for children’s learning and development. Play is a significant aspect of children’s lives, reflecting their social and cultural contexts. Yet in recent decades there has been a steady decline in children’s opportunities for play and particularly outdoor play. Where children in the past may have spent time playing in the street – riding bikes, playing chasing games and ball games increased traffic and stranger danger has reduced these opportunities. As early childhood Educators we need to be looking at the opportunities and experiences that we offer in our setting to ensure that we are giving children the time, space and opportunities to take risks in their play. This allows them to continually test the limits of their physical, intellectual and emotional development. The provision of risk-taking in children’s outdoor play does not mean that safety is ignored. Rather it means that Educators need to be acutely aware of the hazards and take all necessary steps to ensure that the environment is safe and to have adequate supervision to support physical play.
What is important is how these experiences are scaffold to allow for the gradual transfer of risk management to children. The notion of finding the balance is central if children are to have the opportunity to experience some risk in their lives. This balance can be achieved when adults respond sensitively to individual patterns of behaviour, to accept and promote children’s abilities to appraise and manage risks as well as their desire for challenge and excitement in their play. Be vigilant and focused on the child’s activities without jumping straight in to help. You could use open-ended questions and comments to guide a child through the process. Through exposure to carefully managed risks, children learn sound judgement in assessing risks themselves, hence building confidence, resilience and self-belief – all qualities that are important for their eventual independence.