Risky play provokes big feelings in educators and parents/caregivers alike. It is challenging to objectively assess the risk in a play situation when big protective feelings emerge because we are worried a child will be hurt.
One question that helps spark conversation and open sharing with teachers and parents/caregivers is:
“How does this feel to you?”
It’s a question you can ask a parent who is watching their child on a zipline in your program. Perhaps they’re concerned and not comfortable speaking up. Or perhaps they’re celebrating their child’s confidence and agility. It’s a question for the teacher who is suggesting the slackline needs to come down because a child fell off the rope. It’s a question you can ask your co-educator when they’re watching children trying to break the ice with sticks at the pond’s edge.
Their answer might prompt an honest sharing. You might change your approach to accommodate their feelings or you might be on the same page, or you might share your feelings and experience and not change your approach. The question offers an educator an opportunity to share what they’ve learned about supporting risky play, and an opportunity to share all the different kinds of learning they are seeing in each moment.
Either way, let’s get more comfortable talking about risky play and all the feelings it provokes!
Helpful tips for advocating for risky play: