|Yes it is a muddy steep bank & they could fall but they will get back up again.|
Think about that last statement? Can we really keep children as safe as possible without keeping them in a completely padded room for their entire life?
I think it is much better to teach our children to embrace challenge & take risks in as safe an environment as we can provide and by that I mean making sure that equipment is not broken or not age appropriate. I also believe that we as adults can help children to have the right attitude to risk & getting hurt.
|This narrow plank takes a lot of courage & coordination to master.|
And you know what that is still true for me today, no matter what happens to me or how bad it seems at the time, I always remember her advice & so far it always proved to be true & it has made some horrible events more bearable at the time.
It was also a big deal in our house when I got my first scabbed knees from a fall, it was almost a cause for celebration & I wore those scabby knees like a badge of honour! Yes my parents were very caring & loving & I was always very comforted when hurt but I was also encourage to see that falling was part & parcel of my right of passage as a child. I was that child who slipped on a book (I left on the stairs) & went head first down the stairs & into the telephone seat (those of a certain age will remember those) & knocked my front teeth out. I was the child who bounced off my parents bed & hit their dressing table giving my self a black eye - both of these events made for interesting First Communion photos.
With that mantra "It'll make a great story some day" I have put myself forward for some uncomfortable or challenging events, knowing that it would be putting me out of my comfort zone but relishing the chance to have a good story later!
I think as a teacher of young children (the youngest in the education sector in N.I) I believe that I have to pass on that confidence to try new challenges & embrace uncomfortable experiences. In my setting we do of course comfort children who have fallen when scrambling over crates or tree stumps or climbing trees etc. but more importantly we want the children to dust themselves off & try again with the knowledge that they were hurt but are still OK. We can't keep children as safe as possible but we can teach them to judge what is safe for them at a particular moment. I love watching children climbing or walking along the planks of wood & crates in the playground. Some will be very apprehensive about the whole affair & take days of walking slowing along the route & jumping off a certain part they are unsure off, whilst others will run along the route. But more importantly if the structure remains in place long enough every child will manage to negotiate the route & feel such accomplishment at the end.
|After 6 attempts he mastered the tree stumps & was so proud of himself.|
|Arms out for balance - a familiar chant in the playground.|
I am very fortunate that all the parents who decide to send their child to our school also support us in our risk taking culture - many will say they couldn't watch their child do some of the stuff they do in school but they trust us to know what we are doing. I watched a parent visibly wince as she saw a child fall on the hollow blocks this week, she then turned to me & said, "I suppose you are used to that & don't react?" and yes we don't wince or gasp or panic if we see a child fall but we certainly can empathise with their pain. Generally we find it best to watch & see how the child reacts, if they bounce up again with no crying etc. it's best to not make a big fuss of the fall but is a child is hurt we do comfort them & make sure they are OK.
If we want to have a generation of young people who can weigh up the risk versus benefit in situations they find themselves in throughout life, we have to allow them to embrace risk at a young age & then we will have given them a very important life skill.