The benefits of risky play for young children are numerous but allowing our children to push their boundaries is scary for most parents.
That’s why I’ve gathered 10 of my favourite and most doable ways to introduce more opportunity for risky play into your child’s life. Each activity can be done either in your backyard or at your local greenspace. With the exception of the speeding activity, the ideas mainly require items you already own. My own family has tried over half of these activities, and we’ll continue to work our way through the list.
1. From Cool Canvas, this mud kitchen set-up looks like a great first step into riskier play. After seeing my own boys play with shovels, mud, water, and a collection of items at a Toronto park, I know this would be a huge hit in our backyard.
2. I lost myself looking through TeacherToms website. He teaches in a preschool with an outdoor classroom where the children are encouraged to explore with a variety of items including planks, tires, and ropes. How empowering engineering their own bridges and structures? What kind of wood do you have laying around that you can allow your child to play with?
3. In your local greenspace play a game of hide-and-seek with your child using the trees and bushes. Games come with some basic rules, so make up a few that help you and your child feel comfortable such as agreeing to come out of hiding if your name is called. My boys love this activity because the whole family gets involved in the thrill.
4. Check out these 10 Backyard Balancing Activities from HappyHooligans.ca. It’s a low-cost way to allow your child to gain experience with balance and height. Balancing also helps build children’s core strength.
5. Let your kid gain some speed by skateboarding, biking, or scootering. I love taking by 5-year old to trails or school tracks where he can go fast without needing to stop at every driveway. Helmets are a must of course.
6. Little kids always love to go higher and higher, pushing their own limits. Consider placing a stack of milk crates, buckets, or other stackable items in your yard to build structures worthy of big jumps and high fives! Look at the possibilities from including Play Outside!
7. Be open to some rough and tumble play. Try not to intervene when you see your children push their limits. Consider talking to them about what makes rough play fun, and when it crosses the line. As a mom of two boys who love to wrestle, I’m still learning to take a breath and try not to hover as they roll around the yard.
8. Do you have anything that needs demolishing? Break out the tools and have your children it remove the pieces. Including Play Outside shows you how to let it happen.
9. Risky play is about exploring limits. Plan a game of Flashlight Tag. Playing outside in the dark is exciting and a little bit scary!
10. Let your children have creative freedom with their equipment. My boys recently dragged their kiddie pool over to the slide to create a waterslide. My instinct was to stop them, but I’m so glad I didn’t!