It is more common today that we minimise risk in the playground. The fear of accidents and hospitalisation leads us to want to protect our children more than ever. But by overprotecting our children they are missing out on key life skills learnt through free play. When children learn from mistakes, problem solve through challenges, face failure and overcome risk through trial and error, they are establishing a way to solve future life challenges.

Trends in schools are leading to reduced play space and restrictive policing of children’s free play including the elimination of running, cartwheels, ball games and kicking. Too much restriction on  play behaviours can cause young people to have a reduced confidence during physical activities and has a detrimental effect on children’s cognitive and social development.

When there is risk in play children are learning a range of life skills that will help them to overcome obstacles later in life. Unstructured free play is important to allow children to improve their social skills, perform better at school and increase their physical activity levels. Strategies such as introducing moveable items, eliminating restrictive rules and encouraging unstructured open-ended free play can result in an increase in skill development. For more information on building a free play playground setting contact www.playpoles.com.au