• Why encouraging Risky Play is so important

    Posted on April 7, 2015 by in News Updates

    “there’s been a wholesale loss of confidence in children’s own ability to look after themselves, or get to grips with the world around them. How do they find their way through difficult situations? Only by self-directed learning. Yes, it can be difficult and upsetting, and children are going to make mistakes. But I think they need to be given enough rope.” – Tim Gill – Author of No Fear

    “We may observe an increased neuroticism or psychopathology in society if children are hindered from partaking in age adequate risky play.” – Ellen Sandseter, Professor at Queen Maud University in Trondheim, Norway

    “Our children spend their days being passively instructed, and made to sit still and take tests—often against their will. We call this imprisonment schooling, yet wonder why kids become bored and misbehave. Even outside of school children today seldom play and explore without adult supervision, and are afforded few opportunities to control their own lives. The result: anxious, unfocused children who see schooling—and life—as a series of hoops to struggle through.” – Peter Gray – Developmental Psychologist and author of Free To Learn

    “We spend the first year of a child’s life teaching it to walk and talk and the rest of its life to shut up and sit down. There’s something wrong there.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson

    Risky Play6 Types of Risky Play

    Sandseter, E. (2011). Children’s risky play from an evolutionary perspective.  Evolutionary Psychology, 9, 257-284.

    •  Great heights. Children climb trees and other structures to scary heights, from which they gain a birds-eye view of the world and the thrilling feeling of I did it!.

    •  Rapid speeds. Children swing on vines, ropes, or playground swings; slide on sleds, skis, skates, or playground slides; shoot down rapids on logs or boats; and ride bikes, skateboards, and other devices fast enough to produce the thrill of almost but not quite losing control.

    •  Dangerous tools. Depending on the culture, children play with knives, bows and arrows, farm machinery (where work and play combine), or other tools known to be potentially dangerous.  There is, of course, great satisfaction in being trusted to handle such tools, but there is also thrill in controlling them, knowing that a mistake could hurt.

    Dangerous elements. Children love to play with fire, or in and around deep bodies of water, either of which poses some danger.

    Rough and tumble. Children everywhere chase one another around and fight playfully, and they typically prefer being in the most vulnerable position—the one being chased or the one underneath in wrestling–the position that involves the most risk of being hurt and requires the most skill to overcome.

    Disappearing/getting lost.  Little children play hide and seek and experience the thrill of temporary, scary separation from their companions.  Older ones venture off, on their own, away from adults, into territories that to them are new and filled with imagined dangers, including the danger of getting lost.

    To read more from Peter Gray (author of Free To Learn) on why children love and need riskly play,  click here

    To download Tim Gill’s No Fear click here or to read his interview in The Guardian click here



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