At The Owl and the Pussycat Preschool, we believe that children should have the opportunity to engage in risky play as part of their learning and development. Risky play involves activities that can potentially cause physical harm, such as climbing, jumping, and exploring new environments. While it may seem counterintuitive to encourage children to engage in such activities, the benefits of risky play are numerous. What is Risky Play? Risky play is any activity that involves a level of uncertainty, unpredictability, and potential for injury. Examples include climbing trees and exploring unfamiliar places. Risky play is different from reckless or dangerous play, which involves disregarding safety and a lack of caution. Why are Risks Important for Your Child’s Development? Engaging in risky play has been shown to have numerous benefits for children’s development. Here are just a few of them:
  1. Physical Development: Risky play provides children with opportunities to develop physical skills such as balance, coordination, and agility, while helping to strengthen muscles and improve overall physical fitness.
  2. Emotional Development: Risky play can help children develop self-confidence, self-esteem, and resilience. When children engage in risky play, they learn to assess and manage risks, which can help them develop a sense of control over their environment. This gives children a greater understanding of autonomy and confidence in their abilities as they navigate new scenarios in everyday life.
  3. Cognitive Development: Risky play encourages problem-solving and decision-making skills. When children engage in risky play, they must assess the risks and benefits of different actions and make decisions accordingly.
How Do We Create Opportunities for Safe Risk-Taking? At The Owl and the Pussycat Preschool, we recognise how challenging it can be to find ways of providing risky play opportunities while maintaining children’s safety. It is within an established safe and supportive environment that we plan regular activities that allow children to practise taking risks. Here are a few of the ways we incorporate safe risk-taking into our curriculum, including some that you can try at home with your child:
  1. Climbing: We all know children love to climb just about anything. Logs, ladders, stacking crates, and climbing frames are a few ways we encourage climbing at The Owl and the Pussycat Preschool. At home, children can climb couches, trees, fences, and stairs.
  2. Tools: Children can learn how to responsibly handle dangerous tools in developmentally-appropriate ways: shovels in the sandpit and hammers for woodworking. At home, children can use blunt knives to help cut soft things like avocado or banana, shovel dirt in the backyard, and learn to use household appliances such as vacuum cleaners and microwaves.
  3. Heavy lifting: At preschool, children can fill and carry buckets of sand, containers of blocks, and boxes of toys. One way we encourage these activities is by inviting children to help set up and pack away toys. At home, children can lift big books, bags of groceries, and buckets of water (during warmer months).
  4. Experiencing Speed: It’s important to learn how to control our bodies as we experience the world at greater speeds. At The Owl and the Pussycat Preschool, it’s often as simple as facilitating games that involve running: tips, chase, and races. Children also use the swings and slides. At home, riding a bike (or tricycle) is a great way to experience increasing levels of speed. Other ideas are jumping on a trampoline and initiating running races with your child.
At The Owl and the Pussycat Preschool, we believe in the value of children having the opportunity to engage in risky play as part of their learning and development. By providing a safe and supportive environment for risky play, we help children develop physical, emotional, and cognitive skills that will benefit them throughout their lives. Book a tour today to learn more about how we implement these educational strategies and meet some of our passionate educators.