Should We Allow Children To Take More Risks?

As we head towards a new calendar year, it’s important to look back and take stock of the last 12 months. In 2017 we saw a growing back lash against the ‘snowflake’ generation and more conversation about instilling resilience in school aged children.

Of course, whether you are a nursery or school it is important you fulfil your duty of care and ensure no serious harm comes to your charges. This said a growing body of research now suggests we should allow our pupils to engage in risk taking behaviour – albeit, managed risk.

Taking risk is a fundamental way that children learn – after all, if they did not take a risk, they would never crawl, walk or climb! As such, children are naturally drawn to risk taking behaviour, whether that is having a parent throw them into the air, or balancing on a wall.

Leading psychologist Carol Dweck believes that is through taking risks a ‘mastery disposition’ develops. If this disposition is not allowed to develop through risk taking, children may take on an acquired ‘helplessness.’  As resilience in children becomes an increasingly important topic, Carol argues in favour of allowing children to take risks “it doesn’t teach them to persist in the face of obstacles, if obstacles are always eliminated.”

In addition to building resilience in children, risk taking behaviour in the playground has also been linked to reducing the levels of reported bullying among school children (read our full post on it here)

The idea of allowing – or even encouraging – risk in an educational setting can be daunting. However as Kathryn Solly, author and early years consultant, points out “Offering opportunities for risk, challenge and adventure which has be suitably risk assessed and considered as purposeful by the setting is far safer than children seeking out those that are not designed for them in places which are far from ideal and may lead to serious harm”

As Ofsted champion risk taking behaviour in children, it is important that staff in schools and child care facilities feel supported by their employers, and confident in allowing adventure in the playground.

One way to both ensure safety whilst encouraging risky play is to ensure play areas include good quality safety surfaces. Playground surfaces, such as wet pour have been designed to cut the chance of head injuries, and ours have also been tested for non-slip properties. This means children can balance, jump and learn whilst their supervisors rest safe in the knowledge that risk of actual harm has been significantly reduced.

If you would like to know more about safety surfaces, and how they can keep your pupils safe as they explore, contact a member of our team.