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Editor's Notes

We want to protect our children—from danger, from disappointment, from risks. But we also realize that it’s essential to let our children embrace new challenges.

Appropriate risk-taking can be a powerful catalyst for growth that helps children develop good judgment, persistence, and resilience. How though, do we navigate through the fear of our litigation-driven culture to a balanced approach towards risk-taking?   These articles offer some thought-provoking perspectives.

Is the real risk no-risk?  I'd love to hear what you think. Email me.

Rhonda
Rhonda Johnson
Editor

In this Issue...
upside down
Article
Date: August 20, 2013
Author: Joan Almon

The Role of Risk in Play and Learning

Real play means taking risks. As educators we have the responsibility not only to understand the inevitability of risk, but to know the importance of providing adventuresome opportunities for children. In this article Joan Almon advocates for a childhood rich in play and appropriate challenges.
sled
Article
Date: August 20, 2013
Author: Jan White

Embracing Life with Enthusiasm

Children need a childhood filled with opportunities to develop the dispositions, knowledge and competencies that allow them to embrace life with enthusiasm. An environment with challenge and its associated risk is vital for this. In a risk-averse culture obsessed with litigation, Jan White challenges educators to address this important issue.
tree
Article
Date: August 20, 2013
Author: Deb Curtis

Risk

Because much of what is involved in outdoor play involves risk, many teachers feel it is easier and safer to keep the kids indoors. In this encouraging article Deb Curtis offers practical suggestions to help negotiate the risks of an outdoor environment with the goal of providing challenges that are vital to the development of children.
monkey bars
Article
Date: August 20, 2013
Author: Lenore Skenazy

The Importance of Child's Play

Appearing in the Wall Street Journal and on Skenazy’s blog page “Free-Range Kids”, this refreshing, down-to-earth article reminds us that the greatest risk to childhood may ironically stem from our very efforts to keep kids safe. Children deserve a childhood that is filled with opportunities to become competent and confident, in short, a childhood filled with opportunities for play.
Also See
Books
Adventure
Adventure: The Value of Risk in Children's Play
by Joan Almon

NEW BOOK! Children's play is full of risk-taking which can be frightening to their care-givers.  However, in this compelling new publication, Almon argues that risk is a critical component to learning and preparation for life.  How can adventuresome play be restored to its rightful role in childhood?  This must-read guide will not only increase awareness of the need for appropriate risk but also give you the confidence to offer children opportunities for dealing with risk.

Louv
Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder
Richard Louv

The “Bogeyman Syndrome” is how best-selling author Louv titles his chapter documenting the irrational fear that has resulted in a tightening of the boundaries of childhood; fear of traffic, of crime, of strangers, of nature itself.   “A blanket wrapped too tightly has its own consequences”, writes Louv and proposes a radical shift in our perception of protection.  This book, advocating a back-to-nature campaign is a must-read for parents and educators passionate about the next generation.

No Fear
No Fear: Growing Up in a Risk Averse Society
Tim Gill

An advocate for childhood in the UK, Tim Gill’s message is just as challenging and pertinent for readers in the United States.  No Fear argues that children are much more resourceful and resilient than they are given credit for.  The growing trend of risk aversion is actually undermining childhood and limits children’s play and freedoms in harmful ways. Gill’s passionately presented research will leave you with a feeling of urgency to tackle the “zero-risk” policy promoted in today’s society.

Swinging Pendulum
Swinging Pendulums: Cautionary Tales for Early Childhood Education
Carol Garhart Mooney

How do child-care directors navigate through the constant swings of opinion in educational philosophy, regulations, and practices to find the balance on issues like regulation, discipline, curriculum, and safety?  Mooney’s collection of thoughtful essays offers no easy answer to these tough questions but rather stories and questions that will provoke further discussion and reflection.  Included is her essay, “Fear of Heights” which addresses the issue of risk management from her experience in the field.

tumbling over the edge book cover
Tumbling Over the Edge: A Rant for Children’s Play
Bev Bos & Jenny Chapman

Written by experienced educators, this delightful book advocates for a childhood in which children have opportunities to discover, imagine, construct and learn by trial and error.  Through this sturdy framework they can develop a strong self-knowledge and confidence to prepare them for the realities of adult life.  A childhood rich in unfettered play, the authors maintain, is the only secure foundation from which children should enter into the future. 

Blogs
Tim Gill
“Those rocks in that well are too dangerous”
This article by Tim Gill is found on the Rethinking Childhood website

Building a sound, balanced, thoughtful approach to risk is not easy, as Tim Gill relates in this blog (and others) on his website.  An encouraging, real life application of risk assessment.

video
Alliance
The Benefits of Risk in Children's Play
Produced by the Alliance for Childhood and KaBOOM!
Risk teaches children how to fail and try again, test their limits and boundaries, become resilient and acquire coping skills. It's an important part of play, yet children are allowed fewer and fewer opportunities to experience risk. Tim Gill, Darell Hommond and other leaders in the movement to restore children's play speak out on the subject.