A Program/Experience Risk-Benefit Assessment form documents the actions you will take to manage the risks associated with your program and/or play experience, while taking into account the benefit of risky play experiences.
This document will guide your educator’s decision-making process throughout the day and will offer a thorough and consistent approach to different kinds of risky play. Your Program/Experience Risk-Benefit Assessment also offers assurance to insurance companies of a quality Standard of Care and demonstrates thoughtful processes and policies supporting children’s play experiences.
The Program/Experience Risk-Benefit Assessment needs to be updated seasonally and reviewed frequently. Your program may include several aspects of risky play. You will need to create a page for each play experience/activity that is likely to emerge in your program. Focus on significant and likely benefits and risks, not ones that are remote or trivial.
A program in an urban park may see children playing on rope swings, slacklines, painting on a stretch of fabric canvas, gathering pine cones, fishing in a deep puddle, running through the forest and tree climbing. Each experience that involves a hazard (rope, water, running at high speeds on uneven ground, climbing at heights) is considered separately.
You will find that working through this process and emerging with a detailed document which outlines the benefits to children’s well-being and development, while sharing strategies for maintaining a safer program, is a valuable experience for your program and your practice as an educator.
The example shared here details the opportunities for learning and creativity when including ropes in play. It thoughtfully acknowledges the physical and emotional risks and offers direction to decrease the level of risk and offer a safer experience.
Reflective Sharing Prompt: Consider the children with whom you play alongside on the land. In a separate document list all the kinds of play that emerge. Mark the play experiences involve significant risk. Now choose 1 play experience and fill in the empty RBA form below.