Small Risk = Big Reward In Early Childhood Programs

early childhood education gross motor preschool risk Jan 01, 2020

Let's talk about risk baby. Let's talk about you and me... For real. Let's talk about you and me. Adults. Our perception of risk. We hear risk and we hear BAD. We want to run in the other direction because risk could cause injury and someone could get hurt. Well guess what?  Eating grapes is super risky. They are the number one choking hazard in young children. And we give them to our kids anyway. Because we know they are good for the body and they just taste so darn good. But we cut them in half or quarters for our little ones. We know the hazard, so we take precautions to provide this nourishment for our kids. And that is just the same as physical risk.


isk and hazard are different. A whole grape and a two year old - hazard. A tall ladder and a three year old with rusty nails poking out of a board underneath and no adult nearby - hazard. A room of cute rabies infested puppies and a five year old - hazard. You get it. A hazard is something that could hurt or endanger a child that may not be on the child's radar.

Now, walking along a moss covered log in the rain - risk. Trying to sit in a hammock with more than one person - risk. Climbing on a chair to make the block tower just a bit taller - risk. Risks are the challenges a child encounters in their environment - physical, emotional, cognitive and/or social. (We are focusing on physical risk today!) It is our duty as parents and caregivers to provide opportunities for children to take risks each day! Why?

By giving children the opportunity to take risks, we are giving them time to practice trying out consequences before they get older and are faced with larger risks. As much as we want to be, you won't be there to hold their hand forever. When teachers/caregivers/parents support risk taking in early childhood, we are giving the children the tools needed to grow up in the world safely. Through risk, we are giving children confidence and teaching them to trust their bodies.


A childhood without risk is like never allowing your child to learn to hold a pencil. Yep. You would feel kind of rotten if your child never learned to hold a pencil. Children need risk for the benefits to their growth and development. They gain strength, dexterity, executive function skills, balance, and body awareness through risk taking. Taking risks is how children learn new things! They need experience moving their bodies and trying out their bodies as they grow and gain strength to find out what more than can do with it! So, instead of saying "Get down from there!" or "Be careful!", ask, "Do you feel safe?".  They will all be a little bit stronger because of it.



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