Modelling Communication with Children in Risky Play

Our role as an educator is to support safe and kind interactions between children engaged in risky play.

Risky play offers children the opportunity to feel their personal boundaries: “I want to have a snowball fight! But I don’t want the snowball to hit me in my face.” 

Risky play offers the opportunity to hear other children express their boundaries: “I’ll join the snowball fight but if I say stop, you need to stop, ok?”

It offers an opportunity for children to explain precisely how they want to play: “Lets only throw snowballs low! Legs or tummies only!”

And it offers the children opportunities to be assertive and say no: “I don’t want to play, I don’t like snowball fights.”

As educators we support children in understanding that they can trust their gut, that they can say “yes” or “no” and both are equally valid, or they can express boundaries and trust they will be heard.

Our role is to help them grow in their self awareness to know what it is they are feeling. We support their language development as they learn to find the words. And we scaffold their social interactions and communication as they attempt to express to friends how they would like to play.

Tricia Edgar leads outdoor education programming on the West Coast and shares a story about communication and consent in outdoor risky play.