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The Importance of Children’s Risky Play
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April 28, 2016
Green Teacher

Originally appears in the Spring 2016 issue

Credit: Evergreen

It is a common story. A gaggle of children are outside laughing, jumping, and generally running around. Then someone starts a new game or activity that just seems a bit too dangerous …. or is it? The children seem to be having such a good time. So should you let them continue or should you stop the new activity for being too risky? How do you determine if it is too risky?

Risky play is defined as exhilarating or exciting play where there is a possibility of physical injury. Sandseter[i] outlines six different kinds of risky play: speed (e.g., running fast), height (e.g., climbing a tree), with tools (e.g., knives, ropes), elements (e.g., water, fire), rough-and-tumble (e.g., play fighting), and disappearing or getting lost (e.g., independent exploration). Risky play can sound like scary and dangerous play and, as with any type of physical activity, there is the possibility of injury. However, serious injuries are rare and risky play is typically a safe activity.[ii]


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