Risky Play

I’ve been following the 1000hoursoutside challenge, I’ll link to that blog below, since March 2019. We haven’t exactly tracked our hours, but I know we’ve been outside much more since hearing about this challenge and researching the many benefits of outdoor nature time for children and their developing minds and bodies. One benefit plenty of time outside offers, is the chance for kids to engage in risky play practices. Risky play is, well, risky. Giving kids the chance to try new, challenging, and somewhat precarious activities allows them to develop problem solving skills, test their own decisions to discover the real consequences of actions, and build strength, agility, and flexibility in order to tackle the risk.

One suggestion from 1000hoursoutside is for parents to hang back, allowing kids to set the pace and stage of their play. Also, for parents to resist helping children into situations they aren’t big enough to tackle on their own yet. For example, I rarely help Becca onto playground equipment, rocks, trees or anything else that is high off the ground. Our policy is: if you cannot climb it yourself, you cannot play on it. Generally, kids can get down from things they can climb up. Enforcing the rule that you are responsible for your own location helps younger children to develop the muscle strength and cognitive ability to play safely in different areas that are a bit dangerous, unsteady, high, and otherwise exciting before they actually encounter those areas.

This rule is also highly motivating for younger children who want so badly to be big. Not pictured is Becca in the same position as Henley, I bent my rule a bit to help her the last few inches of getting her legs hooked over the monkey bars. She can climb the ladder and get to the bars herself, but her abdominal muscles aren’t quite strong enough to pull her legs all the way up to her head. I was amazed she could get as far as she did so I helped out.

Spent the next hour of playtime helping her achieve the same move. That rule isn’t just about safety, also about mom’s sanity.

I highly recommend the 1000hoursoutside challenge! Here’s the link:

https://1000hoursoutside.com/index.html/

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