Have you heard about the concept of ‘Risky Play’? As a parent, it might sound a bit dangerous, but risky play is all about enabling each child to manage risks to achieve positive outcomes. In risky play, children test and push the boundaries of what they are able to do physically as individuals, which helps them to learn to manage their own bodies better, play more safely and make better decisions.
Risky play is about weighing up the benefits of enabling children to challenge themselves without placing them in danger of serious injury. Risky play can increase confidence, improve co-ordination and concentration, and be thrilling and engaging for the children to participate in.
The thrill of having the opportunity to engage in something that is just outside of their comfort zone is a fantastic motivator for children, encouraging high levels of engagement and self-motivation, facilitating children’s growth in perseverance and resilience, and ultimately the acquisition of a wide range of new skills.
Some of the examples of risky play that children might enjoy at Shooting Stars are;
- using a hammer to smash through ice to ‘rescue’ small world animals
- using a knife to cut up their own fruit or vegetables
- building and climbing across an obstacle course, or climbing up a tree
- using real tools to dig in the garden
The Health and Safety Executive talks about risky play in their document Promoting A Balanced Approach: “‘Play is great for children’s well-being and development. When planning and providing play opportunities, the goal is not to eliminate risk, but to weigh up the risks and benefits. No child will learn about risk if they are wrapped in cotton wool”.
It is of course important for risky play to be properly planned and managed to ensure children are not put in actual danger. Here are some of the key aspects of facilitating safe risky play at nursery;
- Risky play requires plenty of time and patience, as accidents can happen when children feel rushed. So we slow things down, and let each child explore in their own time.
- It is important to be positive. We use encouraging language such as “I wonder how you’ll reach the next step”, or “Show me how carefully you can hold the hammer”, rather than negative language such as “Don’t touch that” or “Get down or you’ll fall.”
- Risks and hazards are assessed realistically.
- We recognise that each child is an individual at different stages of their development. We ensure activities and support are tailored to provide challenges for every child, no matter what stage they are at.
- We let the children have fun and praise each child for their individual achievements!