Risky play is an activity that is thrilling and exciting, it involves a risk of physical injury, it provides opportunities for challenges, testing limits, exploring boundaries and learning about the injury risks.
Children both need and want to take risks in play, it is a part of their development. Everyday life is full of risks and challenges, children need to have the opportunities to develop the skills associated with managing risks and making informed judgements about risks from a very young age.
Why is risky play considered important?
- Allows children to push themselves to the limits of their capabilities
- It provides them with opportunity to assess risk and manage sticky situations
- Allows children to feel in control of their actions
- They learn boundaries in a safe, secure environment
- It gives children a sense of accomplishment and fun
What are the benefits of risky play?
- It develops self-confidence and wellbeing
- It helps develop their coordination and orientation skills
- They learn about consequences both positive and negative of risk taking
- They are more willing to try new things as they have less fear
What life skills are learnt through risky play?
- Balance and coordination
- Self-awareness and empathy
- Decision-making and problem-solving
- Focus and self-control
The Role of the Educator in Risky Play!
The role of an educator in risky play for children is an important one. They are there to support and encourage all children to enable them to gain the confidence to try new things, they need to be available to explore with them, to answer and ask questions. While children need to be supervised at all times both indoors and outdoors, they still should be allowed the freedom to take risks and manage their own play.
Educators plan curriculums and their environments so that they are inviting and engaging and therefore encouraging exploration and experimentation. Children need to be observed to see how play is being managed and change areas if necessary, to meet the needs and interest of the children. Educators observe children’s interests, share in the children’s curiosities and delights, show them how to care for the resources and always ensure that they show children a variety of ways in which to use equipment and the space they are in whether it be indoors or outdoors.
Educators also need to:
- Ensure health and safety procedures/policies are being followed
- Ensure that the equipment is safe, in good repair and age appropriate
- Risk assess the area daily
- Provide detail Risk Assessments for new risky experiences
- Develop activities that meet the needs of all the children
- Plan fun, exciting, engaging and challenging activities and curriculums
- Ensure the environment is inclusive
- Reflect on what works and what does not work, how it can be improved and why
Supervision during risky play is the key to ensuring safety for all in the environment. Constantly assessing the areas while allowing for opportunities to explore and discover independently will see children grow in confidence and take more risks and therefore enhance their skills while having fun.