Safety, protection, and risk are major concerns for parents and educators who work with children. It felt like all I did was count the children the whole time we were outside, because I was so anxious to loose one even in a completely fenced backyard. Safety is a very, very important aspect of caring for children. Parents want to ensure that their child will be well looked after, and the trust it takes to leave their child with someone else for 40 hours a week is no easy task to complete. But what lingers into the daily experience of caring for children that can hinder THEIR development, is fear. We as the adults have way too much fear and it is affecting the children in the long term.
Today, this kind of childhood is gone, and as much as it makes me sad, we need to work with what we got. That means ensuring our children have a childhood to look back on. Those memories might involve playing at daycare or their preschool program, but we as Early Childhood Educators need to ensure we are providing opportunities to create fond memories for their childhood. Provide them with the ability to have playground arguments that they solve on their own, take risks in climbing structures and trees, create games and imaginative play with sticks and rocks.
Unsupervised play is impossible in an early years program, as we have rules and regulations to ensure that we are always in direct visual contact, but there are many opportunities to take a step back but still be in-tune with what is happening. I tried to be a fly on the wall as often as possible, especially as the children grew older and had been with me for a long time. They knew how to solve problems and assess their own abilities. The things I taught them were how to recognize hazards, such as looking for cars in a all directions while walking to the park. The risks they took were their own challenges they wanted and needed to take, such as hanging upside down from the monkey bars or climbing up a wooden plank on the slide.
When children are given the opportunity to explore the challenges they set for themselves, they learn to trust their own abilities, understand that gut feeling, and feel the exhilaration and sense of pride when they overcome that challenge.
Children have rights, a right to play, to make decisions, take risks, a right to create their own childhood.
I am an Early Childhood Consultant and very passionate about supporting and inspiring my fellow Educators. I will share my reflections and experiences about implementing my philosophy, views, and ideas into my practice.