“We want to say yes, more,” writes Rusty Keeler in his popular new book, Adventures in Risky Play: What is Your Yes, but children push the limits and we see danger. In split seconds we scan a situation and make decisions whether to allow play or stop play. Even as super-supporters of play we do that and we should be doing that. But how do we make those decisions? What do we take into consideration? What inner guidance are we listening to?...
A great way to get some practice is by going through the risk-benefit analysis process on any given element your child might encounter. Imagine a child doing almost anything: sitting on a log, jumping from a log, holding a worm, eating a worm, carrying a stick, carrying a long branch…The list is obviously infinite. Even as you read those items you were probably doing a mini dynamic risk-benefit. As you thought of some of those items, your blood pressure remained calm. Sit on a log? Sure no problem…
Jumping from a log? That might have gotten your attention more. And perked the ears of your protector voice. That’s a little more risky. Yes to some benefits but there could be danger too. How high is that log? What are they jumping into? Is there anything under the log that could hurt them? Are they good jumpers?...Dynamic risk-benefit analysis takes practice.”
What is Your Yes?
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Adventures in Risky Play: What is Your Yes? goes to the heart of risk-taking and children. As educators working with young children, we all have boundaries and feelings around what risky play is allowed. Rusty Keeler invites us to examine the cage of boundaries that we have created for ourselves and our children. He challenges us to rattle our cage and discover where the lines are movable. In our role as educators and caretakers, when we allow children to play and confront risk on their own terms, we see them develop, hold their locus of control and make choices on how to navigate the bumpy terrain of a situation. What better teaching tool for life is there?
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