Risky Play in Early Years

All children should be able to experience risky play!

All activities within our settings have risk assessments completed to ensure they are safe for the children to do. However, as with most things in life, there are always risks. As Early Years Practitioners it is our job to eliminate the risks, where possible, and make them safe for our children.

Risk surrounds us in life. From learning to walk, jump, climb etc. There is always an element of risk around, but this is good for children to experience.
By experiencing it, children are able to learn what is safe, and what is not safe. This helps to make links into further experiences and learn about general safety, and what their body can and cant do.
For example, a child is learning to walk – the risk associated with this is falling, slipping, bumping. If we didn’t allow children to experience this, they would not learn to walk which is a huge part of their development.

Its important to look at whether the learning and development is worth more than the risk. This is called a risk benefit assessment. As the child’s development will benefit greatly from taking the risk. Although we say there is a risk, this is still minimized by having highly knowledgeable staff, ratios that are adhered to, and environments that are well suited for the children in our care.

Benefits to risky play:
-Challenging to encourage problem solving
-Develops motor control
-Develops balance and co ordination
-Gives children the ability to risk assess for themselves

Risky Play can be daunting for parents who may have a fear of their child getting hurt. But as long as you are there for support and to assess that the risk is not too great, then the benefits far outweigh it.

“The goal is not to eliminate risk, but to weigh up the risks and benefits. No child will learn about risk if they are wrapped in cotton wool”
– Children’s Play and Leisure – Promoting A Balance Approach, HSE