ChildLinks Issue 3: Children's Risky Play

Barnardos. (2011). ChildLinks Issue 3: Children's Risky Play.
The concept of risky play may sound at odds with our desire for young children to be nurtured in a safe environment, however as the many contributors to this issue of Childlinks contend, risky or adventurous play is an inherent part of children’s play and needs to be incorporated in the early years setting. Key themes which recur throughout the articles include: The theory of risky play; The benefits of risky play for children; The balance between risk and safety; Challenges for staff practice; The importance of partnership with parents. I am delighted that Ellen Beate Hansen Sandseter from Norway, one of the leading theorists and researchers in this field, has contributed an article which explores the benefits of risky play for children as well as the challenging issues of regulation, legislation and staff practice in early years settings. Marie Willoughby from Barnardos provides guidance on managing risk and planning opportunities for risky play that are developmentally appropriate and yet challenging. Marc Armitage shares some of the learning from the UK and elsewhere. Armitage advocates four risky activities which early years settings should incorporate, including the experience of fire, which on first reading which might sound very challenging for some people. Sara Knight writes about the philosophy and practice of the Forest Schools in the UK. Sally O’Donnell from the Glen Outdoor School in Co. Donegal gives an account of the development of this early years service and the practical benefits-risk analysis approach they use. Liz O Rourke from the Cairdeas Childcare Centre focuses on the use of their outdoor space and the importance of risk assessments, policies and procedures in ensuring compliance with the pre-school regulations. Finally, Antoinette Gibbs considers risky play in the broader context/concept of psychological, social and emotional risks in the context of the HighScope approach. Thank you to all our contributors for sharing their insights and contributing to the debate and greater understanding of risky play.