Friday, 8 April 2016

Embracing Risk.

I got the idea for the long handled forks from Highway Farm Activity Centre.
For those visiting our nursery to see the class during outdoor play, I always have to stress that where we, as a nursery team (staff, students, children and parents) are today, is not something we just arrived at, it has been a long journey to reach this particular outdoor play approach. Most importantly, the parents sending their children to our nursery have to fully buy into our approach of embracing risk. I can explain to them at open days and induction evenings what I mean by this but it is usually not until they actually see it in action that they fully understand what we mean. 
I will, often hear a parent telling their child not to go up the slide in those early days or not to pick up sticks or climb over tree stumps etc. As a staff, we take time to explain that it is ok to go up the slide, climb on seats or play with sticks. 
I love watching the children become more confident over the school year as they truly begin to believe in their own abilities. At the start of the year they will ask us a lot, 'can I do that, can I climb up there, can I move that, is it ok to climb over that?' etc. By the start of the third and final term most of them will look to an adult to gauge their reaction or for reassurance but they rarely ask for permission to embrace risk as much. We totally underestimate how savvy young children are, unless they have a reason for having no sense of danger, most know their own limitations & will try a risky activity & decide whether they want to continue or not.
A few weeks ago we built a den out of some pallets. The idea was to have a pitched roof but it didn't work out that way & it has a flat roof. The children love to climb up the sides and one discovered she could get up onto the roof. The next plan will be to strengthen the roof more so that lots of children can be on the top at the same time.
Another way we embrace risk, is to have a weekly fire every Thursday. These children have been used to being around a fire since October & when they had the opportunity to toast their own bread on it, they are sensible enough to stand well back from the flames. The long handled forks allows for this but even then some will stand as far back as possible, in the 4 years we have been using the fire the only children who would go towards the flames are those with an additional need that includes a lack of awareness of danger. 
Each day, all staff have to assess the risk involved of an activity a child decides to engage in & many times my heart is in my mouth as I watch a child climb up on something in the playground but I have to stand back and trust that they are confident they are ok. 
The worst thing we can do for our children is to constantly tell them to be careful or make them afraid to take risks. 


7 comments:

  1. I only wish my parents would have sent me to your nursery school. The consequences would have been positively delightfully far-reaching indeed!

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    1. Hi Tess, funnily enough one of my best memories of my preschool experience is of standing at the top of the slide whilst an adult was telling me to sit down! I was enjoying the view, nothing more!

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  2. I love all of this, it's why I started reading your blog in the first place. Life is full of risks and we have to learn to avoid a few of them, and deal with the rest x

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    2. Thanks for the lovely comment Jenny, it means a lot to hear that from you.

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