Children are ‘hardwired’ to take risks, even from birth. Babies and young children decide to try crawling and walking and then running. Sadly, an increasingly ‘risk averse’ society is making physically activity and playful risk taking increasingly difficult for children to practise. We know that play is the way in which young children learn the skills and abilities they need for life, we believe we do them no favours by preventing them from pushing boundaries, exploring their environment and seeing what their bodies are capable of doing. We believe that through not eliminating risk, but weighing up the risks and benefits, that children will learn about risk and experience challenge. Serious injuries are of course to be avoided, but bumps, bruises, cuts and grazes are an unavoidable and part of teaching children how to manage their bodies in many different physical situations.
Risk taking is good for children and taking risks is exhilarating! We see that children want and need to take risks and believe that our role as adults is to make sure we enable this, but without placing them in actual danger. This is called the ‘risk benefit’ approach to play, and in the UK it has been developed and recommended by the Play Safety Forum, the Health and Safety Executive, and even the Department for Education.
We apply a common sense approach to risky outdoor play because we know that this has always been an integral part of childhood.