There is a time and place for clear educator-led guidelines with less space for compromise or collaboration. Typically, this is a higher risk scenario where the consequences are more serious.
Perhaps there is a ledge or rock wall in your playspace. The rock wall might have areas to climb with clear well-placed footholds, where children can easily scramble up. Other sections of the wall are too steep with fewer footholds. There are boulders under this steep section. You’ve done your Site Risk-Benefit Assessment and you’re aware that if a child slips and falls in this section of the rock wall, the consequences would be severe. In this type of situation, an educator could show the children which areas they are welcome to climb, and which areas are not climbing areas. They could invite ideas from children for staying safe when they climb in the area they’ve agreed on.
Not every guideline needs to be co-created. There is a place for firm and clear adult-directed boundaries. When that is the case, we are still able to share with children which guidelines we can and would like to create together.
Lukeisha Andrews from Wild Roots Forest School shares how she frontloads boundaries with children while offering space to co-create guidelines together.