Find the language for sharing your understanding and approach to risk in outdoor learning environments, develop strategies for building education and awareness.
We live in a relatively risk-averse society. As educators and advocates for outdoor play, we seek to question the “bubble wrapping” of children, the overemphasis on making learning situations as safe as possible, rather than as safe as needed.
We work to carve out the time and space for child- centred, challenging, and risky play, and to communicate the value of this experience for healthy development. We employ a robust risk-benefit assessment process in order to support risky play, and we include children in this assessment process. We do all of this in the spirit of “meeting people where they are at” in terms of their comfort with and aversion to risk.
Clear and through communication about the value of outdoor play and the management of risk is a necessity whether you are a parent at the playground, an Early Childhood Educator in the yard, a Forest and Nature School Educator speaking with parents at the end of the day, or a Manager insuring your program.
We need to model communication and consent for children in engaging in risky play, and for adults who are looking to support it.