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What Is Risk?

But how does that work for the under 2’s? is one of the most commonly asked questions by early years professionals who visit Little Learners. And we agree! Providing risk and challenge for the younger years can be difficult with all of the modern-day barriers in place to keep children as ‘safe as possible.’ We won’t get into the whole dialog of risky play verses benefits and risk assessments, but we feel there is a certain amount of necessary risks that children need to be exposed to in order to develop an understanding of the concept of risk, danger and consequence as well as gaining valuable life skills. 

We believe that being exposed to appropriate risks contributes to developing a certain amount of common sense, resilience and the ability to ‘get back up’ when they fall down. We have been told by reception class teachers that they have been able to identify children who have attended Little Learners by some of these traits. Something we have come to understand is that risk is a fundamental part of being human and it is something we are very passionate about promoting, providing that it is relevant and appropriate. 


Today we will explore what we mean by risk… 

The HSA defines a risk as the likelihood that a person may be harmed or suffers adverse health effects if exposed to a hazard.’ Not every risk will create the potential for serious injury, a risk is a task that makes you think ‘can I do this?’ Everyday we are exposed to countless potential hazards that could put us in harms way but as adults we have the ability to manage these situations. Risk taking can be as simple as a child practising to walk, coasting around tables/furniture, standing or running. When we bring visitors into the setting, do we consider the children’s reaction to unfamiliar people? What about a child touching paint for the first time? What about the risk and fear of failure?



Is everyone’s view of risk the same? 

Having a discussion with colleagues to find out their understanding of appropriate risks will help you to work consistently throughout the setting. Are their limits the same as yours? Are there certain activities that are a definite no? And why? Can we discuss this to share our different perspectives? What different types of risks are children exposed to all of the time? How can you challenge the most confident of risk takers? 

Why don’t you start that discussion? Find out the stance of the setting, the owner, your colleagues? Do you have specific policies or an ethos that may restrict you? Are they negotiable? Can you suggest a compromise? At Little Learners, everything is up for negotiation if it’s in the best interests of the children and the benefits out way the risks (a risk assessment would determine this), then there’s nothing stopping us. This gives the team much more freedom to follow children’s interests in a way that will be meaningful, encouraging and respectful of their needs and innate drive.

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