Taking a planned and supported approach to risky play

Early learning teacher and advisor from the Department of Education, Nicci McDowell, shared advice on risky play with over 500 participants from ECEC services across New South Wales.

Early learning teacher and advisor from the Department of Education, Nicci McDowell, shared advice on risky play with over 500 participants from ECEC services across New South Wales.

Held during the first week of the September Roadshow, the session was explored; what is risky play, the benefits of risky play and how to take a planned and supportive approach to risky play.

“This is an opportunity to critically reflect on risky play, the benefits to children and how to take a planned and supported approach in your own context,” Nicci said.

Nicci shared that risky play involves thrilling, exciting and physically challenging activities like climbing, jumping, balancing or rough-and-tumble play.

“Risky play is not about children being pushed beyond their abilities or engaging in unsafe, reckless behaviour.

Nicci shared that looking through the lens of the National Quality Standards there are links to implementing risky play across all areas.

When you look at the NQS it calls out that children have opportunity to take risk in their play, particularly evident in Quality 3 - “it is an expectation educators should be providing play-based learning, including risky play, starting with Standard 3.2.”

Access the recorded session below.

The Department of Education presents the benefits of risky play and ideas of what supported risky play may look like in your service.

- Hi everyone. And welcome to today's session. I'm just going to take a few moments for everyone to get in and online today. I can see that there's lots of people joining in. So, for everyone that's just joining in, we're just giving everyone a moment to get themselves into the webinar for today. We'll just give everyone a few more moments before we begin. So, I can see our numbers are still going up. We're right on 10 o'clock now. So, just a few more moments and then we'll begin. Okay, I think we might make a start. So, I can see just those last few people are joining in with us this morning. And I think while they're joining us, I can introduce myself. So good morning and welcome to today's road show session, taking a planned and supported approach to risky play. My name is Nicci McDowell and I'm an early childhood teacher. I'm also an early learning advisor with the Department of Education as part of the Curriculum and Early Years Primary Learners Team. And my colleagues at ECE have invited me today to come along and present this session. And I'm really excited to be talking about this area of pedagogy that I really love. Before we go any further, I would just like to say, I coming to you today from the land of the Awabakal people and at the New South Wales Department of Education, we recognise the traditional custodians of the lands and waterways where we work and live. We celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people's unique cultural and spiritual relationship to country. And we acknowledge the significance of culture in Australia. And I'd just like to call out that this artwork has been created by a New South Wales school student and was commissioned as part of the department's reconciliation plan. I'd also like to just say that we're going to include a short video, including an acknowledgement of country by some preschool children.

- We place our hands in the sky that covers Aboriginal land. We place our hands on our hearts to care for Aboriginal land, we promise.

- So, thank you to those preschool children for that beautiful acknowledgement. And I'll just wait a moment, while we get back to our slides for today. Before we go any further when the slide comes up, it would just be a little bit of information, about today's session. Here we go. So, some housekeeping for the next hour. I think the first thing that I need to say is that the microphone, video and chat functions are all disabled for the session today. However, you do have an opportunity to ask questions in the question and answer function that you'll see at the bottom of your screen. Due to the large number of participants, we will need to prioritise questions with the most votes. And we'll try to answer these either during the webinar, during the session or at the allocated time at the end of today's session. So, make sure if you do have a question that you put it into that chat, that box and we'll address it as we can. If there are any unanswered questions today, we will follow those up in a response sheet that will be emailed to all the participants that have joined or registered for this session today. Excuse me, it's also important to know that we're going to be using Menti during today's session. So, it will be good if you have a phone or a device handy where you will be able to scan a QR code and join in for that. And the last thing for housekeeping today is that this session is going to be recorded and it will be made available on the ECE website in the coming days. So, today's session, taking a planned and supported approach to risky play. So, this session today is really focused on an opportunity for you to consider how you may take that planned and supported approach in your own setting. So, it will provide an opportunity for you to critically reflect and examine what is risky play, what the benefits of risky play are and what that might bring to the children who attend your service and how to take a planned and supportive approach in your own context. So, we're going to start with what is risky play. And before we go to the next slide, risky play is a very open-ended concept. And to demonstrate this, we're going to ask you to start to think about what risky play might mean to you. So, and then once you have an answer, we'd like you to send that to us. So, on the next screen, we have our first QR code of the session. And if you scan on that QR code, you will have an opportunity to write some words or to put a definition or maybe some suggestions around risky play is, what does risky play mean to you? What does it look like? What are your thoughts and what are your ideas? And once we have some answers coming in, they will be able to come up on the screen. All right, here we go. Oh, I love this. This is great. So, you can see that already we've got lots of suggestions, children putting themselves out of their comfort zone, great. Led by the child, fantastic. Allowing children to assess a level. I'm just going pause there. I can see that I have lost my screen.

- Apologies everyone. We're just experiencing a couple of technical difficulties. We'll get it back on track very shortly.

- Okay, am I right to go?

- We can still see and hear you Nicci.

- Okay, thank you. I'm not sure what happened there. I apologize for that. So, like we were talking about, we were talking about all the suggestions of what risky play might look like for you. We've got bush play, water play, climbing. It's not just about physical risks. what a great suggestion. It's around thrilling and exciting play, exploration. So, you can see there's lots and lots of different suggestions there. Playing above their limit in a safe environment. Yeah, I love these words that are coming through. Pushing boundaries, it's fun. Absolutely, it's fun. It's around exploring, testing their limits, challenging their skills. Absolutely. That's exactly the types of things that I was hoping all of our participants would say toady. So, now that you've had an opportunity to think about what risky play means for you. We can think a little bit more around some definitions of what risky play is. So, I think we can start with the idea that risky play involves thrilling, exciting and physically challenging activities. And this might be through play like climbing, jumping, balancing, rough and tumble play. It's around children, like who suggested pushing themselves to their limits and assessing risk as they're playing. It's also really important to acknowledge what risky play isn't. So, risky play is not about children being pushed, beyond their abilities and engaging in unsafe or reckless behaviour. And I think if we just pause for a moment and think about that, because it's really important to understand your role as an educator, thinking about risky-type play, because for some children, some play that's been identified as being risky is great for them, but it might not be appropriate for others. So, for example if thinking about children, jumping from a great height, extremely appropriate for some children and not appropriate for others, because it might be pushing them beyond their abilities. Another example that comes to my mind around what it is and what it isn't is an idea of a campfire. So, an unsupported and app poorly planned campfire is unsafe and reckless. That is not risky play. However, a group of educators who are willing to be able to provide a campfire experience to children in a and supported way, can really make this a safe experience for children. So, throughout this presentation, keeping these definitions in mind, we're going to look at how we can explore those roles as an educator in taking that planned and supported approach. So, the first step as an educator, to thinking about what risky play is, are the regulation requirements. And this is always a question that everybody asks, what are educators required to do? And what are the expectations? And starting with the legislative and quality requirements is a really good thing, because there is nothing in the regulations that prohibits children from enjoying, risky-type experiences and play and educators facilitating them. But what is an expectation is that educators are able to differentiate, between what is a risk and what is a hazard. And as more information comes up on the screen, you can see there that a risk is something that is possible to negotiate and maybe appropriate for particular situations in children. But its hazard is something that is dangerous. It needs to be fixed. And this could include something like climbing on a structure with sharp edges or loose boards that could seriously injure children if they play on it. And that's the difference between providing an experience, whether it's a risk or a hazard. So, for example, if you have some timber planks and you've set them up at a great height and you've got the correct landing underneath and children are jumping from those, they're learning about negotiating climbing and how they're going to position their body and what that's going to feel like. The hazard might be there's something in that that could harm to children. So, the planks are in really poor condition. They're splinted, they're cracking and there's the potential that they will break and that will not be safe. That is a hazard. There might not be the correct landing, underneath those planks and it's not safe for children. This is a hazard. So, when you're thinking about risky play, it's really important to think about risk being divided, into those two components, a risk or as a hazard and risky play is getting that right balance. So, if we continue to think about risk and hazard, another really good spot for educators to begin with when they're thinking about implementing, some risky-type play in their setting is the National Quality Framework. What does that say? What does it expect from educators in their interactions with children? And as information comes up on your screen, you will see that it is actually an expectation that educators and services, will provide those spaces and opportunities for children to engage in many different types of play, including risk taking. So, here we are starting with quality area three. And in particular, that standard 3.2, that a service environment is inclusive. It promotes competence and it supports exploration of play-based learning. And then if we go even deeper again, excuse me, 3.2.1, outdoor and indoor spaces are organized to support every child to participate. And it may include features like open-ended interactions, spontaneity, risk taking, there it is right there, exploration and discovery and connection with nature. And then 3.2.2, the resources that you provide to children, allow for multiple users and they engage children in play-based learning. And those resources and materials on equipment are challenging and they encourage children to take appropriate risks. So, when you look at the NQF and the standards within it, they're calling out that children have opportunities to take risks in their play. And that's just one quality area. It's the key quality area to risky play. But we can have a quick look at some of the other quality areas too in the NQS and how they support risky play. So, quality area one, is your program meeting the needs of interests of all children including risky play? Is risky play relevant to children in your setting? What information have you gathered as your evidence of this when you begin to think about planning it? Quality area two and this is the one that really goes hand in hand with quality area three. How are your risks and hazards, managed to keep children safe? This is where you are really thinking about the importance of risks and hazards and how that's managed and what procedures you have in place to address that in your context. Quality area four, your staffing arrangements. What's there to support risky play? How do educators support other educators to plan for and implement risky play? This is the idea around supervision and where educators positioned in the environment to support children to engage in risky play. Maybe it's that you are thinking about are all educators in your team on board with risky players, some educators are risk adverse. And what does that mean? And why might that be? So, these are some of the things you can explore in quality area four. Quality area five, again, is really key to risky play, because it's about relationships with children. Staff have genuine and supportive relationships to scaffold children to take risks. And how will these relationships impact on risky play? Quality area six, again, another really important quality area to consider when you're thinking about risky play, because how do your families feel about risky-type play in your setting? How will you communicate with them about your plans and what can they offer to your plans for risky-type play as well? And we'll talk a little bit more about this as the presentation goes on. And quality area seven, what does your philosophy say about risky play? How do service leaders in your context support this type of play? So, I think you can see by looking through the lens of the NQS and those required expectations of educators, there's a really broad width for you to begin to be thinking about and considering how you can implement risky play in your environment. So, you might like to start with one of those quality areas, and you could identify maybe some practices that you already have in place that could support risky play or you might even be able to identify some areas for development or changes that might need to be made, before you start to think about incorporating risky play, into your planning and programming. All right. So, there's some of the requirements of educators, around risky play and the definitions of risky play. But I think we need to take a moment to think about why risky play is so important to children. So, you can see here that risk taking is fundamental for all children. I think that was called out when you entered your answers around what risky play is for you. It's so important for children, because children of all ages and abilities, are naturally curious. They have an appetite for experience and an urge to explore and understand. They want to find out how the world around them works and what they can do. And they want to be able to extend their abilities and build on the sense of themselves as competent and capable people. And this is a quote from a man named Tim Gill, who has developed a summary of balancing risks and benefits in outdoor learning and play. And this resource will be made available to you at the end of the presentation. So, I guess the benefits of risky play is that it's fundamental to children's development. But when we explore that a little bit more, we can see the reasons why it is so important. And on the next slide, there's just three examples. These are not definite, there is no end to the benefits of risky play. These are just three examples of what it might bring to the children in your education and care environment. So, the physical motions of risky play, required for many of these experiences can help children to acquire and master fundamental movement skills is one benefit. Another reason why risky play is important is that because it supports children to develop perceptual abilities, depth, size, shape and movement perceptions. And another element to why risky play is so important is that it presents children with experiences that help them to develop those risk assessment skills to trust their own abilities and to make their own decisions and take responsibility for their own actions. So, that's a really broad look at why risky play is important for children, but of course being early education and care professionals. The next place to refer to is the early years learning framework. And what is in the early years learning framework that supports risky play and learning? So, the early years learning framework acknowledges that is important for children to learn to deal with frustrations and unexpected situations and take calculated risks in their play. And again, it's a very open-ended concept, but I've just called out maybe three of those areas, those learning outcomes in the learning framework where risky play might sit for you and your children. So, when we think about risky play in the early years learning framework, you might start with outcome one, around building confidence and capabilities that contributes to a child's sense of identity and who they are. Outcome three is another important learning outcome for risky play, because we are talking about the physical and the mental wellbeing of children and how risky play can benefit that or maybe outcome four, where children are learning to become confident and engaged learners. And if they're accomplishing risks, you think about how that can really support them feeling confident and capable. When we're thinking about the benefits of risky play and how to plan for this. Another key aspect of your pedagogy to think about are learning environments and what types of learning environments support risky play. So, it's really important for children to be in environments where they can do things like scramble or roll or climb or to jump because these types of environments, gives them the opportunities to fall and to practice balancing and all of those skills for examples. And I guess if children don't have access to those types of play, they don't get a chance to learn these skills. And this is where we can have a real impact. And before I go any further, I think it's really important to acknowledge that for whatever reason, not all services have access to a natural or an expansive like large type of environment, but it doesn't mean that that limits your opportunity for risky play, because there are ways that you can provide environments that create these types of play experiences. And it's also really important to acknowledge that sometimes I guess as adults, we try and make children's play areas as safe as possible, but when you are doing this, how does that impact on children's learning and by making level surfaces and areas as safe as you can, what is that going to do to children's play and their ability to develop some of those learning skills? So, if we move to the next slide and we can think about no matter what your environment, what types of experiences and what types of resources, can you use to promote some risk-taking type play. So, we've got our first one. So, you might have access to some natural elements, like rocks, trees, mounds, uneven surfaces that promote those real skills for children. But you might like to introduce some resources, some open-ended resources that can create that for children. So, things like ladders, beams or logs or timber cutoffs, you might have tire swings or rope swings. You might have slides at different gradients for children to pay on. Rope bridges or rope ladders, you might have supervised tools such as hammers or hand drills. And I think the key word in that is supervised. You might have enclosed spaces, cubbies that children can play in, and they can build. Loose parts might be in your environment, such as pipes or tires. And the list goes on, you may be able to think of many different types of resources that are very open-ended to support risky play. I think before we go any further, it's really important to call out that while these open-ended resources, create lots of opportunities for risk-taking play, it's also really important to consider what are the hazards with these types of resources and that you identify those hazards, before they're made available to children and that you consider you have systems in place to try and eliminate or reduce these hazards, before children have the opportunity to use them in their play. We're just going to pause for a moment again and think about what you might have in your environment or maybe what you don't have in your environment. Maybe what you are challenged by, but thinking about environments, how do they encourage children to assess and take risks? What do you do? Or what have you noticed or what have you observed as being something that might promote or inhibit children's risk taking in environments? So, the QR code is there on your screen. You should be able to scan that. And if you're not able to, you can see that you can also go to menti.com and you can enter the code there. And that will also take you to the box where you can enter your answer. And as you begin, yeah, so exactly many centres don't have access to these environments as the educators are too worried, about children getting hurt. Absolutely. And as we move on, I've got some critical reflection questions for you to think about, for you to talk about with your educators, trees for climbing, you might have uneven surfaces, natural environments, things like monkey bars. You can be exploring natural resources. So, it doesn't have to be that big type of equipment, bugs, insects, twigs and leaves, fantastic. Absolutely, they're unpredictable. Climbing trees, you might have excursions. Exactly, if you don't have access to these types of spaces in your immediate environment, what's around you in your community context, where you could provide that for children? I agree that parents can be very protective about this. And as we go on, certainly we will talk more about this. Lots of words around natural environments, adding loose parts, we've got creep beds with uneven surfaces and how much the children respond to that. Exactly, no predetermined goal, open-ended opportunities outside and those natural type resources. Soft fall, absolutely. One of those really important features of an environment that that promotes risky-type play. And again, at the end in the links to resources, there's some information about where you can find about what's required with things like soft fall. We've seen the increase of bush kindy programs that create these experiences, but definitely acknowledge that there's a real fear amongst educators to offer risky play. And that might be something that you begin to examine as a team. Some environments don't have much risk, but others are giving some really great examples to where they might provide these types of opportunities. And I think we could go on and on and on, and I wish we had more time, but I'd like to show you some examples of some risky-type play in different contexts. And I've got two examples that I can show to you today from two different types of learning experiences. So, the first here, you can see an image of a child here and this is an example of some spontaneous risky play. So, this service had a whole heap of open-ended type resources available to children. And the children had lots of time for uninterrupted play. And this is what this young man had come to. So, educators were supervising children and they noticed this type of play and immediately stepped into action. So, we can see here that the children have built, they've used planks, they've used reels, they've used their bikes, and they've built this jump that they were going to explore on their bike. It was really important here that educators were able to manage and assess the risk in the moment. So, to be able to scaffold these children to take part in this play and be able to predict and problem solve and maybe be creative in their play. Another example of some risky-type play was a much, this was not so spontaneous. This was quite a planned experience. So, you can see this group of young men here. One of those children had been to the local state park and they wanted to try and recreate that in the environment. A lot of work went into this moment. So, a lot of documentation, around what they wanted to plan, what they thought it might look like. Identifying the risks and hazards. And then there was things after that, that came like negotiating turn taking, following some safety rules and that went on and on for many days. So, you can see that in different environments, risky play can look very different, and it might come about very differently, through spontaneous experiences or more planned experiences. And I think after looking at those two images, it might be a really good time for us to think about how you can assess risks and how you can plan for risk taking play with children. So, when you are thinking about taking a planned approach to risky play, a key place to start is relationships and what do your relationships with children look like that can support that risk taking play? Because when children have strong relationships, this is key to creating an ideal environment where they can develop and test their skills in a safe and supportive way. And it's a bit like a formula. So, educators who children can form strong attachments with, combined with educators who use intentional practices to encourage problem solving skills, create safe and supported play environments. When educators are taking that planned approach and supporting children to play risks, sorry, to take risks and building those connections and relationships with children, then you can think about what might come next, because in safe and supported environments, the role of the educator is that they have, established a systematic maintenance program and that's around reducing those hazards. What have you got in place to make decisions around what is a risk and what is a hazard and how do you deal with that? The next thing that educators can do is observe children and identify those who might need greater challenge in their play, or on the other side of that might need particular or specific support to engage in these types of play. Educators can establish expectations for behaviour when children are engaging in risky play. And in doing that, they can also actively encourage children to assess risk and possible consequences. And that can all be done when educators plan for uninterrupted periods of time for children to follow their interests. Because if your day is filled with many transitions and children don't have that opportunity to explore those open-ended environments that you create. It doesn't lead to that open-ended risky-type play. Another way that you may take a planned and supported approach to risky play is using a tool such as a benefit risk assessment. And you can see that I've included here a resource that's available on the ACECQA website. By no means is this a requirement. This is just one tool that you can use when you are thinking about planning for risky play. So, ACECQA do have this available. I know as an educator, as a teacher, there are plenty of other benefit risk assessment tools available to be using. This is just one example. This example has been used, because it is available to everyone and you can get this from the ACECQA website and the link to this can be put into the chat, but it's also available at the end of the session today. So, when educators are planning for risky play, it's around a balancing act between identifying hazards, the risks and the benefits. And when you use something like a benefit risk assessment, you can assess the likelihood of children or participants coming to harm, the severity of that harm, the benefits and the rewards and the outcomes of that play. So, it's really important that you have those systems in place and that you do use something, a tool of some sort to determine what is a risk, what is a hazard and how you are going to address that. The other great thing. And I would really highlight this as a key practice is that you can do this with children. So, behind the scenes, you may have your own practices in place as an educator, but within this tool here available on the ACECQA website, there are also some templates and some opportunities for you to be thinking about how you can do this with children. And I'm hoping that that is clear enough on the screen for everyone to see. This is just one example. So, within that document that we'll have a link to towards the end, you will find information like this, risk assessment and management tools. And I'd just like to highlight that this particular example is not the only one that's in that document, but this is one for children under five. So, it's based more on that visual concept. There are other resources available that you might use for children who are over five or whatever is relevant for your context. So, we're just going to take a moment now to think about how you might use this tool and how you might assess risk with children. So, using this template, you would start at the top and you would identify, what is the learning experience? Why are you doing this? So, it might be for example that children are making plans to climb the playground tree. So, you would identify that with the children and actually make a plan for what they're going to do. Then you can move down into those bigger boxes. The next thing that you might spend some time considering with children is what are you actually going to do? You can establish that plan and set some clear guidelines. So, for example, how will children know when it's their turn? How will children get down once they've had enough? Who will be there to help you? You might ask those children, so that it's really clear to them what they're doing and who's there to support them. In the next section, you might like to think about some open-ended questions that you could ask children to scaffold their thinking around safety. So, for example, taking some time to look at which branch is the highest you're going to climb to. Are there any branches in that tree that look unsafe, or why is that so and what can be done about it? You might like to think about the suggestions that children could make, what can be used to make it safe on the ground underneath. And I'm sure that children would have some great suggestions that they could add to assessing the risk and looking at the benefits of this activity. And then finally, what you might also consider is encouraging children to reflect and make decisions about their own actions. So, for example, did you feel safe enough or was it safe for everyone and what could be changed for the next time? So again, this is just one example of how you can assess risk with children. I also think it's important to say that using something like this is probably not enough that before you've reached this point in your planning that you as an educator, have already undertaken some of the safety checks or the hazard checks and predicted, some of these are issues that children might have identified. So, thinking about all the things that we've talked about so far, and I know this lots of people have talked about, working in a team where you may have educators who are risk adverse. You might have, I can see we've got, someone saying about someone that's very out there with their approach and their level of risk taking. And you might have another staff member who is on the complete opposite end of that scale. And I guess that's okay, but you might like to take some time as a team to reflect on your practice. So, what does your team mean by risk? As a group of professionals, you might like to come up with some definitions that apply in your own context. And if there are some educators who are feeling risk adverse, why is that so? And what can you put in place to make them feel more assured about risk? Or if there are some educators who are very open to risk taking play, why is that so and how have they come to form that belief and what ideas and thoughts do they have around, allowing children to participate in these types of playing, supporting children to participate in these types of play? You might like to reflect on, are there opportunities for risk-taking play for the children at your service? What is already there? You might like to do that resource audit and think about what is actually available and what you would like to be available, because they're two very different things. It could be a really good time to review how you assess risk in your environment. What systems have you got in place to make sure that those are risks with benefits and not hazards. You might like to think about your relationships with children and how do you ensure children are encouraged to develop the skills, to assess their risks and minimize their risks in their play and for their safety. You might be at a point where your team, where you are thinking about how do children's ideas and their voices contribute to risk assessments. And what have you got in place to do that? Or do you not have anything? And maybe it's time to think about what you can be using. And finally, something that is always very hard to talk about and lots of people think about is how might you empower families and communities to see the benefits to risky play? Because you have some families that might be very open to their children being engaged in risky play. And at the same time, you've got other families who really don't feel that same way. And I think it's really important to acknowledge that, that you are going to be talking about risky play with families. And I think you are the people that know your families the best, you are the people that know your context the best. So, you are going to know the best way to approach this. However, maybe you'd like to consider these points. When you include families in discussions about risk and safety, educators have the possibility to allow for a shared understanding of risk. So, sometimes parents might hear risky play and immediately they think of something that's very extreme. Spend some time explaining to parents or talking about what that risky play looks like in your environment and how it fits into your service philosophy. You might spend some time, collecting information from families, what are their understandings of risky play and the risks versus the hazards. And then how can you reassure your families, through your risk assessments that you are not being reckless or unsafe, that you do have some systems in place to manage those types of hazards that might cause harm for their children. And these types of conversations, will look very, very different in different types of settings, but maybe you could think about applying a lens of something else to your conversations with families. So, for what I mean by that is for example, is that risky play is just one area of pedagogy or one area of planned play that you might be thinking about for your families. If you took some of those conversations to something else, like excursions, how do your families feel about excursions and what would you do or what would you say to families if they had questions around your practices of excursions? So, then thinking about it like that, take it back to risky play. What would you say to families? What are the benefits that children might gain from risky plays? What are the risks? What are the hazards? How are you going to address them? Just like you would, if you were doing something like an excursion. So, there are many different ways to approach this with families and it might take time as well. I don't think that if you have an environment where you don't have planning for risky play, I'm not sure that you could just suddenly have risky play in your curriculum, in your planning. It might be small steps over time, but if you've got an end goal and you've got steps along the way, families can be a part of that process. And hopefully you can come to some shared understandings. All right. So, on the next screen, we've almost come, we're coming to an end of the presentation today. I'm going to give you an opportunity to link to some resources. So, you can see here, there's two options to link. These are just some examples. This is by no means a finite list. There are many, many resources available to educators, out there so that you can access and think about what risky play looks like in your context. This is just an example. So, you can do two things. The links to these resources are going into the chat, so you can click on them and follow it that way. Otherwise, you can scan the QR code and that will take you directly to some of these examples. And I'll quickly just talk about what I've included here. So, the first one is that risk assessment and management tool from the ACECQA website. Again, just one example of the tool that you might use when you are thinking about incorporating risky play, into your environment. The next there is fact sheet or an information sheet from the ACECQA professional learning program, it's their eNewsletter around unpacking how educators, can plan for a culture of an adventurous play or risky play in their setting. Another great resource when you're thinking about risky play is Kids Safe. So, I've linked to two different resources there. One is a practical example, another example to assessing risks and the benefits with children and the other is some provocations around planning for challenging and risky play. And the last resource there is the one that quote came from by Tim Gill, around balancing risks and benefits in our outdoor learning environment. So, while you're accessing those resources, I'm going to take a moment, because I can see there are some questions in our chat function. So, if you time looking, just accessing those and I'll have a look and see what we've got here. And what I might also do is just invite one of my colleagues to come onto screen. So, if Bridget's there, I'm not sure whether she'll be able to, but Bridget can maybe call out some of those questions. Hi, Bridget.

- Hi, Nicci. So, we have a few questions in there. A few were already answered throughout the presentation, but some questions around advice to help educators get on board, who might have a fear of risky play and acknowledging that as you have, it's important for all educators to be on board to really get the benefits, but also encouraging an approved provider to get on board, which would probably be a bit more of a challenge. So, leave you to those two.

- Yeah, absolutely. So, I think we might start with the other educators, those people that you are working directly with, day in, day out, they may be in your team. They may share the playground or the play spaces that you use. And I can certainly acknowledge that the risky play is not for everyone, but I think if we come back to some of those critical reflection questions. Maybe you can make some time to work together around identifying, what do you actually mean by risk? So, actually verbalizing what you might understand to be risky play and what they might understand to be risky play and having a conversation, around what the differences, the similarities and the differences and making decisions maybe around how you can meet at those similarities and how you can plan for maybe just initial risky-type play. I think it's important to acknowledge that educators bring their own thoughts, feelings, ideas, philosophies to their role. And it could be that you need to acknowledge that there is a reason why they are feeling this way and that is completely understandable, but how are you going to work together in this. Is it that you take the lead in that risky-type play and they have a different type of role. Maybe they are spending time with other children who aren't interested in that risky-type play. And they're supporting you in that way, because you are promoting that risky play for the children that you believe might be interested in that play and benefit from it, while they can spend their time with the children who aren't interested and those children that do feel like they're going to be pushed beyond their abilities and it won't be of any benefit for them. So, I think there are, again, I don't think it's something that there's an immediate answer to. I think it's part of a professional practice of working, within a team and working together like you would with maybe any other type of experiences or learning that you may not agree on. I think for approved providers, I can definitely understand why there might be some hesitancy, around incorporating risky play and maybe that's around those ideas of risk versus hazard. And are there systems in place to identify the hazards that may cause harm, but also the risks that bring benefits to children's play. And that could be how you begin that type of conversation is that yes, you understand, there are hazards, these are how they're eliminated, but there are also benefits to these risks and here they are. And maybe some of these resources that have been shared with you today can give you some thoughts and ideas around how to talk about the capabilities of children and what risk can bring to their play and the benefits of that. So, Bridget, do you think I've answered that enough?

- I think so. Lots of reflections there for people to think about. And then this is an interesting one, where do rules fit in with risky plays? It is a specific example about having one area where the children can jump freely off logs onto bar chips, but there's only one way that they're allowed to go down the slide on the wall.

- Yeah, absolutely. And I think, again, like who's making these rules, are these rules coming from educators or are these rules coming from children and why might that be? Who's imposing or who's deciding what these rules can be. And is it time to reflect on these rules? Is it appropriate? I guess we're talking here about, maybe around using the language of learning outcome for a children, how children transferring skills from one environment to another to make them confident and capable learners, yes. They're able to do it in one area, but not another area. So why is that so, and what discussions can you have with children and with staff around this? And I think really that is sometimes the only way to make any change. You may not feel, it might be an uncomfortable conversation to have, but what strategies could you put in place to address that? And if you don't address it, then maybe you'll continue feeling that same way. But if you do address it, maybe you can have an impact on some change in an environment that could bring about some more open-ended type play.

- Thanks, Nicci. We have quite a few questions coming in now. So, any we don't get to, like we said, we can circulate afterwards, but one around risky play affecting behaviour. Can this encourage children to demonstrate more challenging behaviours or is it more likely to filter their energy, towards more constructive moments, learning opportunities? Do you have any thoughts on that?

- Yeah, absolutely. So, I think definitely, again, a very open-ended topic and a very open-ended discussion point. But in these resources here particularly the resource around developing a culture of risky play in a service, there are some links to some other resources that you might find useful in this and the work of Tim Gill as well. So, I need to acknowledge that Tim is not Australian, and his work is not in Australia. However, the work that he does can very much be applied to our Australian context. So, if you have a look there you can begin to talk about, think about, sorry, around that idea around behaviours, because for some children, I think risky-type play calls to them. This is the type of learning that they need. Some children need to move to learn. That's just who they are. And how do you, I guess if you're thinking about meeting the needs of children, how are you planning for that? Certainly, acknowledged too that very much, behaviours are an observed thing and that for some children observing, it may create some challenges around behaviour. And I think it's really important that that part of that benefit risk assessment with children and part of the role of the educator is that you're supporting children and making some really clear guidelines and some really clear expectations around behaviours, so that risky play doesn't become reckless or unsafe.

- Thanks, Nicci. So, we only have a couple of minutes left. I don't know if you want to squeeze one more in or?

- Yeah, probably just one more. Have we got time for one more? And while just to say too, that if we don't get to your question today, there will be that response sheet that will be sent out to everyone. So, we can maybe address some answers there.

- Well, there is a question about what happens when an incident might happen, if a child gets injured during risky play, because that would obviously be a bit of a concern for-

- Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. And I think, I guess there's different types of injuries. So, did the injury come about because of something that was a hazard? Was the planning not supported, not well supported? Was the play very reckless? Because if that was the case, then I would consider this is quite a serious injury, a serious incident and that there would need to be some actions taken to address that to ensure that it didn't happen again. However, when you are thinking about assessing risk and identifying hazards, what's been put in place, before children can access that play to think about what these injuries and incidents might be. How have you talked to other educators about this, is everyone informed of what the intentions of the play are and the expectations. Are the children aware of this, have you had conversations with the children, around the play, what the expectations are and what the purpose of the play is? And have the families been informed of this type of play as well? Has it been clearly communicated that it's planned for, that those risks and hazards have been addressed and that there are systems in place to reduce children coming to harm? I think if those layers are there, then maybe you are able to say that sometimes children do have incidences, but if you've put the steps in place to reduce the seriousness of that, there is no reason why risky play can't happen in your environment.

- Thanks, Nicci.

- That's okay. So, I think what I'll do there is finish up for today. I would just like to thank the ECE team for inviting me to participate in this session. I can see that lots of you have joined in and are very mindful of your time. So, thank you. This has been recorded and it will be available on the website. And I hope that you've been able to take just one thing from this session and take it back to your team and to think about how you can be incorporating, this into your programs and into your curriculum. So, thank you very much.

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