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Our new Outdoor playspace - all about boosting our children's wellbeing

 Practising essential risky play safely in ECEC settings to boost children's wellbeing

If I were to ask you what memorable outdoor play you experienced as a child, what recollections would you have?

Skateboarding fast downhill, climbing the highest tree, spending all day at the park on your own… and what about the game 'brandy, where you'd run for your life so you wouldn't get 'branded' by the ball being pelted at you? 

Most of our entire childhood was spent unsupervised and building character.

 How we encourage risk-taking in outdoor play?

defines risky play as "a thrilling and exciting activity that involves a risk of physical injury, but also provides opportunities for challenge, testing limits, exploring boundaries and learning about injury risk."

  • We examine and challenge fears about allowing children to explore risk-taking adventures.

Risky outdoor play covers all of the Outcomes in the Early Years Learning Framework!

    • Outcome 1 – Children develop their emerging autonomy, inter-dependence, resilience and sense of agency
    • Outcome 2 – Children become socially responsible and show respect for the environment
    • Outcome 3 – Children become strong in their social and emotional wellbeing
    • Outcome 4 – Children develop a range of skills and processes such as problem solving, inquiry, experimentation, hypothesising, researching and investigating
    • Outcome 5 – Children interact verbally and non-verbally with others for a range of purposes

 Why is risk-taking in play important for wellbeing?

 Being in the outdoors with unlimited possibilities to explore, to create, to try again, to fail, to succeed, means educators are following a child-centred pedagogy, where children learn about managing situations and are able to assess risk. By promoting adventurous play, where children explore, are free and have fun, educators are supporting all areas of their development.

Managing risks helps children to develop their cognitive thinking by learning to problem solve. When outside, for example, children are thinking about how to climb down from a tree, working in teams to build a cubby, where to step so you don't fall off a log…

Sometimes adults can underestimate the capability of children's thinking. By allowing children to play in the wild outdoors, we are saying to them, "I trust you" and "You can do it"

Risky play is an impactful way to learn about consequences through the understanding, 'if I do this, then that will happen'. 

Enhancing cognitive development in this way impacts positively on social and emotional cohesion.

Children's thinking skills are being nurtured so their self worth becomes evident through the ability to take a risk, to explore, to play in open ended environments, where there are no right or wrong ways to do things, just learning to take risks safely.

Once the child feels empowered by their choices in play, they start to reach out to their peers, developing social unity and working together to build their next cubby or to climb on the fallen down tree together.

 Outdoors and learning

 The word "kindergarten" originated in the 1840s from the ideologies of German educator Friedrich Froebel and literally translates to "children garden". Propelled by innate curiosity and wonder, a Froebelian approach to education is premised on the understanding students learn best when they undertake imaginative play and curious exploration.

Not only is outdoor play central to children's enjoyment of childhood, it teaches critical life skills and enhances growth and development.

Autonomy and freedom in the outdoors is both liberating and empowering for kids. Burning off excess energy outdoors makes children calmer and fosters pro-social behaviours

Our NEW outdoor play space

Our new outdoor play space has been carefully planned to allow risk, enhance creativity, bolster mood, lower stress, improve mental acuity, well-being and productivity, cultivate social connectedness, and promote physical activity.

Risks will be managed - please feel free to ask to see our risk management plan of our playground, alternatively a copy can be found in our Risk Management Folder in our Foyer.. Your input is greatly appreciated.

Our Educators will undertake further training and our supervision plans will be revisited and revised to ensure a safe play space for all children involved.

 …."children learn to judge risks through experience with risky situations and by developing the cognitive skills necessary to make more accurate judgments" (Plumert, 1995; Plumert and Schwebel, 1997).

In Conclusion...

 When meeting children's wellbeing needs through risky play, there will be moments of bated breath, as they take on these risks.

If we plan ahead, research the risks involved, actively supervise and remain informed, we will limit the negative outcome of incidents or accidents.

We also to adhere to our Code of Ethics, by basing our work on research, theories, content knowledge, practice evidence and our understanding of the children with whom we care for.

Children have the right to opportunities that will help them grow into confident and independent individuals, ready for the school years and beyond.