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Reflections Magazine : Reflections Issue 61, 2015
8 At Gowrie SA Thebarton, the children in our kindergarten have been exploring benefit-risk assessments through their play experiences, both formally and informally. Exploration of risk in play has unfolded alongside children's and educators' growing appreciation for loose parts and nature play (Daly and Beloglovsky, 2015). Educators value children's right to a rich learning environment where they can express their preferences, voice their ideas and be heard. Children are viewed as "active participants and decision makers" in their learning (EYLF, 2009, p.9), and as such, they are supported to engage in the use of benefit-risk assessments when engaging in risky play. This partnership between educators and children allows for educators "to move beyond pre-conceived expectations about what children can do and learn"(EYLF, 2009, p.9) as they watch, wait and give children the space needed to explore their own capabilities and engage in the risk assessment process. Educators highly value the need and right children have to learn in natural environments.We are committed to establishing environments which provide children with the opportunity to become the best learners that they can be. The importance of children's engagement in nature moved to the forefront of our thinking after many of our educators viewed 'Project Wild Thing', a UK initiative working towards getting children and their families back into nature. Considering this, and our commitment to sustainability, we incorporated the use of natural and reused materials, such as collections of branches, bricks, recycled tyres and lengths of timber for building and climbing, into our program. At the same time, benefit-risk assessments support our community to make informed decisions around these types of materials and learning environments. Informal Benefit Risk Assessments through Play Our value for natural environments exposes children to risks involved in the natural world. As we observe children's learning we pose questions to them to provoke and challenge their thinking and understanding of the risks they are confronted with or may face. This supports the development of children's ability to identify potential risks, hazards and benefits associated with their explorations, and make informed decisions taking these factors into consideration. In doing this, as they weigh up the benefits and risks involved in their actions and ideas, children practise hypothesizing, predicting, experimenting and investigating. Benefit-Risk Assessments with Children Kate Stone & Christina Lipitkas Kindergarten Teachers Gowrie SA, Thebarton
Reflections Issue 60 Spring 2015