Children playing freely often challenge themselves, explore their limits, and take risks. Aside from the innate pleasure and satisfaction this kind of play can bring, it can also an important part of children's development, giving them opportunities to make independent decisions, think on their feet, balance risk and reward, and learn to take ownership and responsibility for their actions. They also learn to look out for each other, negotiate potentially complicated situations, and share what they have learnt through trial and error. These kinds of opportunities are increasingly rare in many children's lives.
Baltic Street Adventure Playground has a policy on risk, which sets out both how we think about risk, and the measures we take to protect children from unacceptable levels of risk, and dangers which they are not in a good position to judge for themselves. Some the texts we drew on whilst learning about risk are below. As ever, we learnt the most from the children themselves, watching and collaborating in their play.
Playgrounds: Risks, Benefits and Choices, David Ball
Appendix on Safety, Forestry Commission
Managing Risk in Play Provision, Play Safety Forum
Playground Safety Management, David Potter, 2001
Risky Play and Children’s Safety: Balancing Priorities for Optimal Child Development, Mariana Brussoni