Here at Little Knellies, we endeavour to share experiences promoting lifelong skills as well as challenging stereotypes of activities that might be more ‘typical’ in an all girls educational setting. As part of our Learner Profile and holistic learning program we support the children to become risk-takers but what does this mean

What is risk?

To many, the word risk immediately makes you think of something that is dangerous or harmful. However, part of living life to the fullest involves risks.

A healthy baby would not learn to sit, crawl or walk without taking risks. Similarly, a child would not learn to negotiate steps or to ride a two wheeled bike without risk taking. These most certainly will not come without accidents and perhaps injury, but as long as we allow them to continue to take these risks, with active encouragement, children will get back up and keep practising until they have achieved their goal.

What happens when we take measured risks?

When we allow children to take risks in a safe way, we allow them to build self confidence, independence, as well as teaching valuable life skills. Children will learn how to self regulate and decide if something is too high, for example when climbing a tree.

Positive encouragement goes a long way in this instance and helps them revisit the task until they have achieved what they set out to do. Putting children in charge of their own actions sends a message to them that we, as adults, trust their judgement and capabilities. Another important fact with allowing children to take measured risks will allow for you to see when or if a child needs some additional guidance or support.

Taking a measured risk

Here at Little Knellies, we believe in the importance of taking measured risks, whilst teaching the children how to be safe.

From Nursery, the children are invited to take part in wood work activities at our workbench. They use real tools, including a sharp Japanese saw, hammers, a hand drill, nails and screws- to name but a few. This really opens up their young minds and gives them the freedom to experiment and explore with real tools, which perhaps they have only seen adults use up to now.

One child (aged 4) recently made a train and whilst initially telling me she was not going to use that saw as it looked “dangerous”, with a few further words of encouragement and reiteration of safety rules, she decided to take that ‘measured risk’. She followed this with “I can’t believe I used that, I am so proud of myself!”. When she had finished her mini project she evaluated the session by saying “Do you know, at the beginning I didn’t think I could do wood work and use tools, but I can, I really can!”

Another example of measured risk taking involves the use of our large scale play equipment in the garden. The children have access to raw wooden planks and logs. They know how to move these around safely for use during their play. We have climbing cubes of differing sizes which they enjoy jumping from. A favourite game is placing a plank between cubes to walk along, whilst another is balanced up against the tallest cube. The children love to climb this and or slide down. The beauty for us practitioners is seeing them work as a team, which builds upon communication and negotiating skills as well as turn taking and enhances a great imagination!

We are so proud of how the children in Little Knellies are encouraged to partake in and embrace risks, and all the learning that will occur as a result of this.