Risky spend regular and long periods of unstructured play

Risky play is an
important part of children’s early development and learning. Risky play is an opening
for children to engage in play that initially involves hesitation and a possibility
of physical injury (Warden, 2015). The potential risk in any play provides a
child with the opportunity for a challenge in order to explore their physical limits
as well as to learn life skills (Elliott, 2008). In various studies, there have
been discussions about children’s safety during both indoor and outdoor play. Therefore,
the risky play has become increasingly regulated, controlled by adults and even
removed completely in some settings (Stephenson, 2003). Consequently, the
children feel no control over their play and find it really difficult to deal
with risky conditions when coming across during the play (Stephenson, 2003). Claire
Warden promotes for benefit-risk assessment for the outdoor setting which allows
the early childhood professionals to be observed and to consider any hazard that
can exist in that setting (Warden, 2015). The key reason for conducting the
risk assessment is to identify the potential risk and consider what actions
need to implement to eliminate the risk. The educators can also involve children
in evaluating the risk for the risk assessment before engaging in the play
experience. The educators can ask children questions about how they can remove
the risk to make their play environment safe. This form of discussion informs
children that they in charge and responsible for their own and their peer safety
during that play.

I had the opportunity
once to visit Maribyrnong Kindergarten which offers a bush kinder program for
three and four year’s old children. According to the service policy, the
children are offered the opportunity to spend regular and long periods of unstructured
play time to explore and learn in the natural setting. The natural spaces offer
an enormous range of possibilities for children to learn and develop which are
not available indoors. The policy explains that these natural spaces offer
open-ended interaction among peers or with educators, risk-taking, increase
self-confidence, teamwork and connection with nature. Through play, children
attain skills to manage challenges and advance their self-awareness in handling
risky situations according to their capability. The service policy offers
child-led play at individual child’s pace. This also offers freedom to children
to explore their natural spaces using all their senses, which are necessary for
inspiring creativity in children’s play and make-believe play.

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I believe that nowadays
children get fewer opportunities to play outdoors in the natural environment
and this generates serious alarms about children’s development and learning. Therefore,
it is important to support children’s overall development by engaging them in
natural play.

The educators can plan activities and experiences in
the outdoor environment which also allow children to engage and connect with the
natural environment. A natural experiences can include vegetable gardens,
compost bin or worm farm to teach environmental education, flora and fauna life
cycle, Sandpits for sensory, physical and imaginary play, dirt patches where
children can use age-appropriate garden equipment’s, a range of native plants
to encourage a play with gum nuts, tree barks, and small branches for climbing