by Jess Brewer, preschool instructor, Nurture in Nature Preschool at the Tacoma Nature Center
Often, the word risk has a negative connotation and is something to be avoided or even feared. However, I was excited to see several sessions at the national conference that addressed and embraced risk as something to be encouraged and celebrated in outdoor preschool programs. Families of our incoming preschoolers at the Tacoma Nature Center’s Nurture in Nature Preschool understand that safety is our number one priority and while we do our best to prevent and predict hazards throughout our preschool day, risk taking is encouraged. As teachers, we can see the benefits of our students taking reasonable risks, but it can sometimes be a difficult sell to parents who are concerned for their child’s safety and well being. While attending a session about risk taking and risk assessment we brainstormed a comprehensive list of the benefits of risk which I wanted to share with you all as a reminder of why it is important to allow reasonable risk taking in your preschool program; and also as a communication tool for helping families understand why we promote risk taking.
Benefits of Risk:
-self regulation development
-confidence building, self satisfaction
-enhanced imagination, creativity
-partnerships, team building
-failure, coping skills
-cause and effect
-resilience, persistence, commitment
-growth, calculating risk
-proprioception (awareness of personal body movement)
Some questions to consider: What type of risk do you encourage and what do you avoid in your program? At the session, we sorted risks and hazards into six different categories: rough and tumble play, disappearing and getting lost, dangerous elements, dangerous tools, rapid speeds, and great heights. What safety measures do you have in place while students engage in risk taking activities? What will you do ‘find a way to say yes’ to your students and allow risk taking while at school?
Let’s continue the conversation! If this topic is of interest to you, please feel free to comment below and add your thoughts, ideas, and opinions.