Exposing children to risky play

Hudson pretends that he's Spiderman when he navigates the new playground. (ABC News: Alice Pavlovic)

Exposing children to risky play

Daycare centres are exposing children to risky play, and there are unexpected results

Posted on 12.10.2021

Watching four-year-old Hudson play on an edge nearly two metres off the ground can make the heart race.

Instead of offering a hand, or calling out “be careful”, his educators at his childcare centre are standing back to watch what happens next.

Woodlands Early Education Centre, in Logan south of Brisbane, as well as nine others in the chain have recently overhauled their yards to increase children’s exposure to risk.

It involves letting children experiment and push themselves without knowing the exact outcome and without adult intervention.

It involves letting children experiment and push themselves without knowing the exact outcome and without adult intervention.

While the new grounds may look dangerous — a towering fort (with open edges), 1.6-metre-high balance beams, and climbing walls (without a fall mattress) — the data shows the opposite.

There has actually been a 43 per cent reduction in reported injuries at the centre.

Key points:

  • Ten childcare centres redevelop their playgrounds to introduce risky play
  • Data shows a 43pc decrease in injury reports at one centre
  • Play experts say children can get a dopamine hit from risky play, learn self-fulfilment and how to gauge risk into adulthood

“I think we’ve shifted completely as a team to risk, navigating risk, and letting children take risk, and not underestimating their ability to do that.”

Kym Agius
ABC News



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