When I went into our little lady’s parents evening, and I was explaining our decision to remove her from formal education, one big issue was the lack of them being allowed to take a risk in our current world. I had 2 four year olds that were drilling and sawing in Forest School, but an eight year old that hadn’t been able to play out one Autumn day because, although the sun was out, the fallen tree leaves were drenched and slippery. This was at the end of a very damp week that had seen virtually no outdoor playtimes, and she was desperate for fresh air. The message that the children are getting is a very worrying one, and one that is, not only going to breed a generation of risk averse adults, but adults who also don’t know how to manage risks.
That is why, I was pleased to read an article in the Sunday Times on Easter Day about children needing to face and encounter risk. What made me sit up and take extra note was, that it was the HSE chairwoman that was voicing the concerns, an organisation we often blame for hindering everything with rules and regulations. It highlighted that children experiencing danger as part of their curriculum would help them learn about threats to themselves. Otherwise they are not learning about the real world and will be poorly equipped to deal with what is out there when they grow up. It carried on to say that children should be encouraged to climb trees and go on adventures. We live in a blame culture, but instead of restricting risk taking (often in rather ridiculous situations; it commented about a school banning frilly socks for fear of tripping them up), we should be providing more back up to fight the blame culture.
There will be no more hiding indoors on wet, cold, or windy days, and we shall actively be seeking out adventures, and trying to reverse the insecurity our little lady feels about something that takes the slightest risk. Her little brothers, who have not been exposed to this yet, often push her into doing things. For example, a few summers ago, our little lady was not keen on swimming in the sea. On watching 2 non swimming two year olds stroll right on in (obviously needing a little education about appropriate risk taking!) spurred her (a competent swimmer) into taking a risk and giving it a go. She has not looked back and we can’t keep her out the sea now. That is just one example of many where they have showed her to just give it a go. Hopefully now, with a bit of guidance, we can increase her confidence in taking risks, and teach the twins how to manage risks appropriately!