Understanding Adventurous, Challenging and Risky Play

Children require environments that allow them to engage in play that is adventurous, challenging and even risky. Risky play helps children learn about their world; test out what is and is not possible; learn about making mistakes; and discover new things about their space, place, and environment (Pye, 2013). Risk taking contributes to children’s in-depth problem solving and critical-thinking skills. Children in over-regulated environments have significantly fewer opportunities to master the challenges in active play spaces (Frost, Wortham, & Reifel, 2012). Children require environments created by early learning teachers who understand the importance of children being challenged within their environment. Children have a right to these types of environments. The opportunity to experience adventurous, challenging and even risky play is important to children’s development and overall well-being.

Tim Gill is considered one of the United Kingdom’s leading thinkers on childhood who advocates for positive change in children’s everyday lives. Gill’s book, >em>No Fear: Growing up in a risk averse society published in 2007 is seminal in the work that has been done by writers and researchers all over the world to support more opportunities for children to engage in challenging, adventurous and risky play! Click the caption of the book to reveal some highlights that help us to understand this type of play.


No Fear

The book argues that childhood is becoming undermined by risk aversion. The aim of the book is to understand how and why anxieties about risk in childhood are growing, to explore the possible consequences, and to make proposals for a more balanced approach, which takes account of children’s resilience. The book’s main focus is on the crucial years, between the ages of five and eleven, which see many important changes in children’s social and personal development, when children first start to enjoy a measure of autonomy beyond their homes however live in neighbourhoods that represent the shrinking horizons of childhood. Not only are children affected by risk aversion, their spaces for play are retracting in comparison to other generations.

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