Risky Play and Risk Assessments

Category: How To Guide Matt Kindell 0

Picture this: a child climbs a tree, their heart pounding as they reach new heights. Yes, there’s a chance they could fall, but their sense of accomplishment when they successfully navigate the branches is unparalleled. This is the essence of risky play, a concept that, despite its name, is vital to a child’s development. But where do risk assessments come into the picture? Let’s delve into that.

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Risky Play and Risk Assessments

Understanding Risky Play

Definition of Risky Play

Risky play, in the realm of childhood development, refers to play scenarios that involve a risk of physical injury. But why would we let children engage in potentially harmful activities, you ask? The answer lies in its importance.

Importance of Risky Play

Risky play allows children to test their physical limits, develop their problem-solving skills, and handle fear. These are essential skills they’ll carry into adulthood.

Types of Risky Play

Physical Play

Physical play, like climbing trees or running at full speed, allows children to understand their bodies’ capabilities and enhances their motor skills.

Adventure Play

Adventure play, such as exploring unknown areas or building dens, encourages creativity, decision-making, and fosters a sense of independence.

Social Play

Social play can sometimes involve risks, like standing up to a bully or leading a team. These scenarios can help children develop social and emotional skills.

Risk Assessment

Purpose of Risk Assessment

Risk assessments are conducted to ensure that the risk level of the play environment is acceptable – not completely void of risks, but not dangerously high either.

Conducting a Risk Assessment

Risk assessments involve identifying potential hazards, assessing the likelihood and severity of potential injuries, and deciding on measures to mitigate these risks.

Balancing Risk and Play

Role of Supervision

While children should have the freedom to explore and take risks, adult supervision is still key to ensuring safety. This doesn’t mean intervening at every turn, but being there to guide and provide help when needed.

Importance of Boundaries

Establishing boundaries, both physical and behavioral, can help children understand their limits and the consequences of crossing them.

Benefits of Risky Play

Risky play has been associated with a range of benefits, from improved physical health and motor skills, increased self-confidence and resilience, to better risk management and decision-making skills.

Challenges and Criticisms of Risky Play

While there are numerous benefits of risky play, it has its fair share of critics. Concerns often center around the potential for physical harm, but it’s essential to remember that risk doesn’t mean certain injury.


In the grand scheme of things, risky play, backed by thorough risk assessments, fosters an enriching environment where children can grow, explore, and learn. It’s about finding the right balance and understanding that the goal isn’t to eliminate risk but to manage it effectively.


  1. What is risky play? Risky play refers to play scenarios that involve a risk of physical injury and allow children to test their limits and handle fear.
  2. Why is risky play important? Risky play is important as it helps children develop physical, cognitive, and social skills. It enhances problem-solving abilities and resilience.
  3. What does a risk assessment involve? A risk assessment involves identifying potential hazards, assessing the likelihood and severity of potential injuries, and implementing measures to mitigate these risks.
  4. Is adult supervision necessary during risky play? Yes, adult supervision is key. However, it’s about guiding and helping when needed, not about constant intervention.
  5. Can risky play lead to serious injuries? While there’s a risk of injuries in risky play, it’s mitigated through risk assessments and establishing boundaries. The goal is not to eliminate risk but to manage it effectively.

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