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Healthy Risk Taking

As forest school leaders, we think a lot about healthy risk taking. We want the children to have lots of opportunities to take risks and challenge themselves at their own pace. We also have to distinguish between a healthy risk and a hazard.

A few examples: we let children use tools like a hammer and nails, which can be a risky activity. We would not let them use a chainsaw though, as that would be potentially hazardous. We consider lightning and 40+ mph wind gusts a hazard at forest school, and so we avoid these hazards by taking shelter indoors when they are present. Fire on the other hand, we consider a healthy risk. With a few simple rules and guidelines, the children learn how to converse, cook, sing, and share stories safely around the fire.

Climbing is another healthy risk that we encourage at Fairywood. We want the children to set their own goals as they climb on trees, steep hills, ladders and loose parts. We are there to "spot" them and encourage them, but they do the climbing themselves.

They take many social risks throughout the day as they seek to join in on play, negotiate boundaries, share resources, and experience new friendships and perspectives.

They take creative risks as they build fairy houses and forts, mix potions, make creatures out of clay, and try new techniques like leaf stitching.

We believe that healthy risk taking can help build resilience, confidence, independence, flexibility, and critical thinking skills.

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