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Is Risk Taking Healthy For Children?

I was recently having a conversation with a friend of mine who works in a Pre-School with children of around the age of 4. During a discussion about current affairs in the early years foundation stage, she started to explain to me how the children at her school were allowed to climb trees, build walls using real bricks and embrace the outdoors even if it was raining. This to some could come across as potentially dangerous and unsafe. I went on to ask why her school encourages these kinds of activities and the answer seemed very clear...

The ‘hands off - eyes on' approach is very educational for young children, allowing them to take good risks through play. This is a way for children to learn and gain valuable life skills; being physically, mentally and socially. Studies have shown that through play children gain an awareness of their own limits and boundaries.

The Early Years Foundation Stage Development Matters document supports this; the Characteristics of Effective Learning is a section of the handbook that has recently been altered. The hand book now urges practitioners to find new and diverse ways to teach their children and put these to use within their practices.

Below are the main focus points of The Characteristics of Effective Learning within the Early Years Foundation Stage -

  • Playing and exploring (Engagement) - children investigate and experience things, and 'have a go';
  • Active learning (Motivation) - children concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties, and enjoy achievements; and
  • Creating and thinking critically (Thinking) - children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things.

It is still vital to create safe, structured environments and set certain key rules for children. Although is it equally as important to respect children's choices and guide them through their day to day activities.

At Nursery Resources we would love to hear your opinion on letting children take risks and what variety of activities and games you partake in at your own settings.

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