What is Risky Play?
Risky play is a situation or activity that is exciting, challenging, and includes a possibility of failure, such as falls, minor scrapes, or the inability to complete a desired task.
Risk vs. Hazard
- Risk is present when a child is able to see an activity, assess the potential consequences, and make their own choice about whether or not they want to participate in the activity.
- A hazard is when there is an unsafe situation that the child can’t see or assess, and therefore don’t have a choice about whether or not they want to participate.
- In our play, we will ensure that children have the choice of whether or not they want to engage in risky play, but they will not be exposed to hazards.
Examples of Risky Play
There are several categories of risky play defined in the research, including play from great heights and play with high speed. Examples of risky play that we see at NWP include: climbing trees, playing with sticks, running games, sledding, or playing on a steep hill.
Benefits of Risky Play
Studies have shown that children who participate in risky play when they are young have better motor skills, social skills, conflict resolution skills, physical health, mental health, cognitive function, attention span, and risk assessment in their teens and young adulthood.
· https://ellenbeatehansensandseter.com/: This is the blog of the leading risky play researcher.
· https://www.backwoodsmama.com/2018/02/stop-telling-kids-be-careful-and-what-to-say-instead.html: The document on the left came from this source.
· https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/freedom-learn/201404/risky-play-why-children-love-it-and-need-it: This article has great information about the research illustrating the benefits of risky play.
· https://www.theriskykids.com/2013/11/baby-steps-to-risky-play-for-parents-and-caregivers/: Nervous about risky play? This article has ideas for beginners.
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Clements, R. (2004). An investigation of the status of outdoor play. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 5(1), 68-80. doi: 10.2304/ciec.2004.5.1.10
Kemple, K., Oh, J., Kenney, E., & Smith-Bonahue, T. (2016). The power of outdoor play and play in natural environments. Childhood education. 92(6), 446-454. doi:10.1080/00094056.2016.1251793
McFarland, L. & Laird, S. (2017). Parents’ and early childhood educators’ attitudes and practices in relation to children’s outdoor risky play. Early Childhood Education Journal, 1-10. doi:10.1007/s10643-017-0856-8
Sandseter, E. B. H. (2007). Categorizing risky play—How can we identify risk-taking in children’s play? European Early Child Education Research Journal, 15(2), 237–252. doi: 10.1080/ 13502930701321733 .
Sandseter, E. (2009). Affordances for risky play in preschool: The importance of features in the play environment. Early Childhood Education Journal, 36(5), 439-446.