Embracing Risky Play at Greenwood Notting Hill

Gone are the days of over-protecting children when it comes to risky play.

Here at Greenwood Notting Hill, you’ll find them going hammer and tong with real saws, real nails and yes, real hammers.

Learning through play

Woodworking is a big skill-set that is gaining popularity amongst children within the under-five age group.

The idea is being embraced as a fun way of learning new skills they’ll need later in life. Not so much a future in cabinetry or building, but through qualities like resilience and perseverance.

What happens when they’ve accidentally hit a thumb instead of a nail? They learn to pick themselves up and have another go until they are satisfied with their creation.

In an increasingly risk-averse world, Greenwood Notting Hill is taking a different approach, of course in a highly supervised and safe environment.

Centre Manager Melissa Syer says risk taking is connected to problem solving, a skill the children will need throughout their lifetime.

“Risk is about not being afraid to trying something new,” says Ms Syer, who has a 20-year pedigree in early childhood education. “It’s a learning process; if something doesn’t work you learn how to do it better next time.

“This is as an aspect of learning that many children are missing out on. The woodworking classes help them to deal with setbacks and find solutions to problems.

“We don’t want a generation of children so worried about what might happen that they are too frightened to try anything challenging or new.”

risky play

What do the parents have to say?

Ms Syer says the children love the woodworking activity and parents have gradually warmed to the idea.

“Generally, it’s parents who are risk-averse,” says Ms Syer. “They worry about them playing barefoot, going outside in case they get a cold, so we also have to educate the families to view risk as a positive.”

G8 Education Pedagogy and Practice Manager Dr Melinda Miller says risk-taking is essential to setting up children for a resilient future.

“It’s about taking off the bubble wrap and allowing them to take measured risk and understand that not everything goes to plan,” says Dr Miller.

“Sometimes taking a risk will result in an unexpected outcome, but children quickly learn about their own boundaries and that of the environments in which they play.”

Exposure to the real-world

Working with real materials on a construction project comes with even greater benefits. Children also learn about:

  • the properties of different materials, and
  • the process of design

“The woodworking activity allows children to manipulate real objects and this translates to real life learning,” says Dr Miller. “It helps their learning around critical thinking and the design process, how to plan, build, test, evaluate and change design.”

If you would like to learn more about how Notting Hill adopts risky play, give us a call on 1800 413 921 or pop into the centre at any time. One of our friendly educators would love to talk to you all about it.


Author: G8 Education

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