Risk is all in a day's play
NATURE EXPLORERS: Igniting Learning Naturally
THE term "risk averse” barely seems to do justice to the expansive fears of modern society. So it's not surprising when considering nature play, risk is an often passionate topic and a frequent roadblock.
Naturally, all families want their children to be safe.
Children can and do get hurt in nature-based play - but life itself is dangerous. Life is full of risks, and we should hope it remains so. Risks are an integral part of progress. Thus, the goal shouldn't be to eliminate all risks from our children's lives, but to manage them and keep them in perspective.
The bottom line: children need risk. It is a powerful catalyst for growth that helps them develop good judgment, persistence, courage, resiliency, and self-confidence.
It will allow them to process decision-making: "Can I make it across the stream on that log? Should I climb one branch higher than I did yesterday? Can I jump from that boulder to the next one? Why yes, I can - because I've tried it and succeeded!”
Remove risk from children's lives, and parts of their growth may stagnate. Healthy development will sometimes mean a few scrapes, cuts, and bruises, but removing risk may derail a child's formative connections with nature, as well. We need to allow our children to explore risks in nature that are challenging yet manageable. They need to practice identifying and assessing these challenges, and to then decide whether or not to "give it a go.” And should they fail, they need the chance to try again.
Four tips to encourage your child to take risk:
- Let your child lead the way while exploring local community.
- Let your child climb, build shelters, cross narrows paths.
- Instead of saying "be careful” encourage your child by saying: "I know that you have the skills to do this, and I will be here if you need help.”
- Let your child think about what they need for the "adventure” ahead, what they need to pack, what they need to consider in regards to the weather.
* To find out more about this nature-based education program offered at Pottsville, contact Nature Explorers co-ordinator Sofia Machado at email@example.com