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Safety's a risk!

The other day, I had a discussion with a first-year ECE tech intern. She told me how she found it difficult and stressful when children were climbing up the play structures. She was afraid they would fall and hurt themselves. She asked an experienced educator, who seemed calm during outdoor games, how she avoided feeling stressed and the educator replied: -You know, you'll soon realize that if the children have managed to climb so high, it's because they have the skills to do it. With experience, I quickly understood that children know their abilities and that if they need help to get back down, when they find themselves in a position that they find uncomfortable, they call me fairly quickly. The intern continued her reflection and concluded that keeping children safe does not mean over-protecting them. Rather, they should be given opportunities to take risks, climb, fall and get up. Furthermore, overprotecting children can also be harmful to their health. It can be risky to try to keep children safe by preventing them from being active. Participaction recommends encouraging active play and risk-taking among children. Risky play can be very beneficial for them, as they learn to test their limits, discover their abilities and develop their confidence. Outdoor playgrounds The ideal place for active play is outdoors. Outdoor play allows children to take risks. It is interesting to note that outdoor playgrounds in North America are ultra safe and governed by approved safety standards. The zero-risk philosophy is favoured and through prevention and regulation, situations that are risky for children are minimized as much as possible. There are asphalt playgrounds covered with rubber and plastic. Children can generally slide on the traditional slide by climbing steps or swing on sprung animals. In Germany, playgrounds seem rather dangerous by North American standards. There are outdoor playgrounds with elements of nature, long grass where children can hide, run and jump. There are also natural wooden structures where children can climb to impressive heights. Emphasis is placed on learning to be independent, so that children learn to test their strengths and recognize their limits. In addition, it is not uncommon to see children playing in playgrounds without parental supervision. What do you think is most beneficial for children? The asphalt yard and colourful play structures or more natural environments? Several studies have shown that the quality of the environment has a significant impact on children's active play and risk-taking. Children find it much more stimulating to be in natural environments with a forest, rocks, tree trunks and long grass. They have more opportunities to take risks and discover their abilities. In such environments, children are more likely to come back with scrapes and minor injuries, but the benefits to them in terms of developing independence and confidence are greater. You have to trust the children. They know their abilities and know how to handle the situations in which they find themselves. To learn how to handle risky situations, children must experiment: climbing, falling, facing risks and getting up again. This is because children learn by themselves and they need to be confronted with and deal with risks. Safety is risky, but taking risks doesn't mean exposing yourself to danger. The important thing is to equip children to face risks and learn how to manage them. When children climb trees, bicker, jump down a large rock or hit rocks with a stick, they find themselves in exciting situations where they have a chance to make discoveries and learn. The role of the adult is to guide children and allow them to have experiences that are appropriate for their age. From the age of 5, children are able to recognize danger and are able to evaluate their abilities in the face of these risky games. The benefits of risky gambling In risky gambling, there is no negligence, recklessness or promotion of unnecessary risk. In these games, children push their limits and learn how to solve problems. In addition, letting children experiment and risk brings many benefits. Here are a few examples:
  • Increase confidence
  • Developing autonomy
  • Improve motor skills
  • Encouraging concentration
  • Increases problem-solving abilities
Children love risky games such as climbing, jumping, climbing, running at high speed, bickering and hiding. All of these activities give them a thrill. In order for children to reap the maximum benefits from risky play, adults must provide safe opportunities for them to take risks while being concerned about the safety of the challenges offered. The danger with safety is the risk of overprotecting children. A more sensible approach to safety is to let children experience risky play, while exposing them to the risks, gradually, according to their age and by accompanying them. Will you dare to offer children risky play?

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