Risk Versus Benefit: Learning Through Challenging Play

Risk Versus Benefit: Learning Through Challenging Play

Children love to play games with an element of risk, but adults tend to prefer that they don’t. While health and safety is a keyword in educational provisions, it can also be misleading. We must protect children from dangers, but we shouldn’t be afraid to let them experience the thrill of risky playtime.

Learning And Development

Risky playtime is a way for children to develop both their physical and mental skills. Learning to climb trees, for example, is great physical exercise. It helps children learn to improve their climbing skills and increases their strength. At the same time, it gives children a great sense of achievement and improves their self-esteem.

Children can also learn empathy by using ordinary tools with adult supervision, like a spanner, screwdriver, or hammer, which feel different to their plastic counterparts. While learning useful life-skills, they are also learning to empathise with those doing the work at home.

The Types Of Risk

There are several types of risk which children can participate in. These include:

Tire swingHeight RiskGetting to a good height to see a bird’s eye view, and achieving this gives an exciting and rewarding thrill.

SpeedGoing sledging, swings or on slides to go fast. Children are looking to go fast enough to create a thrill, but they don’t like to lose control.

Dangerous ToolsUsing equipment that most of the time we wouldn’t think suitable. These give children new sensations and help them feel connected to the work they see adults undertake.

Dangerous ElementsChildren love to play with fire and water – both of which can be dangerous if care is not taken.

Rough And TumbleChildren enjoy play fighting, and often they will put themselves into vulnerable positions to feel the thrill.

DisappearingWhile a child disappearing is every adult’s worst nightmare, playing hide and seek and other such games in a safe environment is beneficial to development by providing the thrill of controlled separation and subsequently being found.

Emotional Control

Research has found that risky play, while posing a limited risk of injury, is essential for the mental development of children. Risky play allows children to experience the negative feelings of fear and anger and learn how to manage them in a controlled environment.

Then, when experiencing unavoidable real-life scenarios, because of playtime, they’ve hopefully learnt the necessary control mechanisms to deal with situations calmly.

How will you allow children risky play in your setting? How can you make risky play safe?

Let us know in the comments below.

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