Jump to content
Home
Forum
Join Us
Articles
About Us
Tapestry

Is Your Outside Area Safe Or Risky?


Guest
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hi everyone!

I have to write an assignment at the end of my current MA module and I think I would like to do it on risk in outdoor play. I have read books on the subject by Helen Bilton and Margaret Ouvery and find what they have to say about providing challenge in the outside area very interesting i.e. children seek out their own challenges in their play and if they are prevented from doing this they may play with safe equipment in very dangerous ways in order to find that challenge. There are also suggestions that if we encourage children to be 'risk takers' that 'can-do' attitude extends to other areas of learning.

However, I know from experience that many parents and some of my colleagues feel that safety is paramount and that even the risk of a small bruise, cut or graze is unacceptable. I tend to think that if children have e.g. built a 'climbing frame' from crates, planks and A-frames etc themselves, been challenged by what they have to do on it, then the learning that they have got from it (self-esteem, working together, phsycial challenge plus a lot about forces etc) is worth the risk of a minor injury. I wold expect an adult to be there to 'oversee' it all but even adult presence may not prevent small accidents from happening.

I would be really interested to know what other practitioners feel

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm inclined to agree with you, but my NN is very safety conscious; that's not to say I'm not aware of the risks, but like you say, you have to make an informed decision, and you can't wrap them up in cotton wool.

My children made a tower from the crates the other day: it got so tall they were asking me to help them place the crates on the top - which I did. But when we had run out of crates, I did say to them that we needed to make it a bit shorter (shoulder height) because if it fell on them it might land on their heads!

We also use the crates to create a bench effect for the children to walk along (by we, I mean I showed them how to do it once & now they do it automatically). I tend to leave a gap between the crates & place the planks on top - creating a bridge effect, whereas my NN puts them right up next to one another, which does make it a little more stable, but makes for a much shorter run & has a completely different effect - for example, there's no 'give' in the middle where the crate is missing, & doesn't really encourage them to take as much care when crossing.

I have recently acquired a collection of 'ends of walking sticks' (don't ask!), which are around 5 - 9 inches in length I guess. I spent a while cutting bits of some of them & sanding them off, but I just know I will be met with "splinters" when I take them in to nursery. I have looked at them. I have sanded them off as much as possible. I have decided that the children are at risk from splinters from the wooden fences & from picking up sticks. I think they'll get a lot out of playing with these, so I WILL be introducing them.

Not exactly an outside thing, but my NN doesn't like that I take bubble wrap in for the children to pop. It is supervised though, & they just love twisting it & jumping on it - especially the giant stuff!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I went to australia on a study visit earlier this year, one of the main things we looked at were the outdoor areas. There were a number of early years practictioners from around the uk, and we all felt that there was a completely different attitude towards risktaking in play, and that it was beneficial to the childrens development. In one outdoor area, as the teacher was showing us around, she pointed to one section and said that they have planted trees specifically for the children to climb (at which most of us dropped our jaws and started thinking of litigation!!!), also in the same setting, a little boy skidded and fell over in the sandpit, our first instinct was to help him because it looked a nasty fall- his attitude was 'it's nothing, why are you fussing'. They also provided real woodwork tools for the children which they could use without supervision (they would have been given an introductory session on them and there would be an adult nearby). The practitioners attitude in these situations was that without learning about controlled risk, the children won't learn how to respond to it.., and they didn't feel that there was a culture of legal action in australia like there is in the uk.

 

the experience certainly made me think about my own outdoor environment, and how i could introduce safe elements of risk to enhance the children's learning and development...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We all take risks everyday and young children are no exception. As practitioners we have to decide on the degree of risk we are prepared to let the children take - a small bruise or cut is very different from a burn or broken limb! I was talking recently to a preschool leader who told me some of her parents were insisting that their children had to wear helmets to ride the tricyles... Heaven forbid if they were to let the children hammer nails into blocks of wood :o

Link to comment
Share on other sites

we allow children to take risks throughout the nursery in and out. We have real tools at the woodwork, the children climb trees, build their own circuits, challenge themselves at the monkey bars etc.

 

I built a bonfire for my children at group time the other day .

 

If we wrap children up in cotton wool then we are not educating them for the real world where risks have to be taken.

 

Yes our children fall, bump heads etc, but the most severe injury that we have had recently was done by one child hitting another on the head with a toy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

:o

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree. I try not to "smother" the children in our place. some children are so used to mothers running after them for the smallest cut, and making a fuss. you can usually tell if a child has really hurt themselves. if you make things too safe children don't learn. like you said ASPK if they don't hit their fingers with a hammer once they won't learn to becareful the next time. I know that however much my husband tell's me not to do something because its going to break or I will hurt myself I still have to do it until it does break or I hurt myself. then next time round i'm more carefull. even in your 50's you can still learn and kids are no different. :D:o:DxD I say measure the risk and try not to cause to much damage!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

During a study visit to Sweden I enjoyed climbing trees with 3-4 yr olds, and cooking waffles on a beach fire. :D:D:D

 

The Nursery I visited had 6 classes, all with continuous outdoor access. Each class (in rotation) would spend a whole week on outdoor visits, they were called the "ootgroup". Every day for a week they would arrive at 8pm, get on the minibus and spend the whole day visiting farms, parks, the beach, forests, etc and arrive back at Nursery at 6pm. Lunch was flasks of goulash and rice and eaten as a picnic ( come rain,shine or snow). I particularly enjoyed a visit to an ostrich farm :D . Their ethos is to, in as many ways possible, not "let" but "enable" their children to live life to the full, especially through outdoor pursuits. :D

 

Peggy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sounds very similar to my visit to Denmark, Peggy. The Forest Nursery we visited went to the forest every day unless it got as low as something like minus 10. They had a basecamp with rudimentary facilities - very! An open fire in a big pit was quite a feature, as were the independent woodworking skills, and the small stream that they could fish in with minimal supervision. The English chap who worked there said the worst injury they had had was a broken arm when a child fell from the tyre-swing hanging from a tree.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

we allow children to take risks throughout the nursery in and out. We have real tools at the woodwork, the children climb trees, build their own circuits, challenge themselves at the monkey bars etc.

 

I built a bonfire for my children at group time the other day .

 

If we wrap children up in cotton wool then we are not educating them for the real world where risks have to be taken.

 

Yes our children fall, bump heads etc, but the most severe injury that we have had recently was done by one child hitting another on the head with a toy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

:(

42924[/snapback]

 

 

I agree. NOT at all sure how we survived to become adults with all the risks we took as children. :o

We too use real tools, have free access to the outdoor area where children with the best will in the world will find 'interesting' things to do with the materials. We have a BBQ in our outdoor area (not quite as much fun as a bonfire) and cook snacks to eat together. We also have a trampoline which the deputy head has 'flagged up' as a concern xD

Children will always have minor scraps but are we doing them any favours in depecting a world without risks and dangers?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you very much to everyone who has replied - lots for me to look at further and think about. is there anyone who feels very unsure about safety in challenging outside play or who would like to try to be more adventurous but is stopped by SMT, Gov Body or PTA? I would be very pleased to hear from you too.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. (Privacy Policy)