Did you see the photos of our Year 6 students designing a new nature play space on Facebook? They began by interviewing Prep students about what they would like and are putting together creative proposals for Mrs Mitchell. With all the planning they put into these proposals, I’m sure no one asked, ‘how can we make the playground more dangerous?’ but maybe they should have.
In an article called, ‘What I learned from a year of working Danishly’ by Simona Maschi & Christian Bason in Quartz Ideas, it said that constructing more dangerous playgrounds is a good way to build a future workforce with aptitudes for empathy, complex problem solving, teamwork, creativity and people skills.
The article said, “In Denmark, playgrounds are full of natural elements like water and rough-hewn branches; trampolines and high peaks with no safety nets; and even mini bike lanes with traffic lights so children can practise their future pedal-powered commute. Kids are expected to take risks, negotiate with and help one another, talk to strangers, and come home with raw knees.”
It is here that I would like to quote two words from a famous science fiction series from 1978, “DON’T PANIC”. We won’t be building trampolines without safety nets or pushing our Preps onto Roberts Road to practice their pedalling and safety skills as a result of this article.
However, the article is a good reminder that it’s okay for our children to take measured risks under supervision so they learn new skills and build resilience. On Sunday after church, the heavens opened and the younger children raced to jump in every puddle while the older ones ran under overflowing water pipes and became thoroughly wet. They had more fun playing with the natural elements than the latest computer game. It was heartening seeing their parents encouraging their play without worrying about wet hair or dirty clothes.
We are about to experience our third set of school holidays under Covid-19 and I want to encourage you to look at these holidays differently. For many, it will be another staycation or local camping trip. Instead of asking, ‘how can I keep my children safe’, focus on opportunities for risky play under your supervision. Take them on bushwalks, climb mountains with them, take off the training wheels and watch them grow into strong resilient children. Giving your children age-appropriate freedom helps them learn their own limits and overcome anxiety.
Keep the bandaids handy and remember that a grazed knee has a shorter recovery time than an anxiety disorder.
The only risk I encourage you not to take is related to our current restrictions in Queensland. Please abide by the regulations; continue to wash hands and keep on social distancing until this difficult time has passed.
Mike Curtis, Principal