Sunday, May 29, 2011

Learning to judge risk

No, this is not a post on financial risk. It is about child development and learning to judge risks yourself (a hot topic in my household).

As an economist parent this article, and the comments that follow, is very interesting. It begins...

Play equipment designed by  "safety nazis " doesn't allow children to learn from risk-taking, an expert has warned.

More kids aged two to seven were getting injured in playgrounds because they didn't know how to take calculated risks.

While it may seem obvious, learning to take risks involves... taking risks! There is an old saying that epitomises this attitude – if you want to learn to swim, jump in the water.

But it seems that Councils are not going to replace their plastic low velocity slippery slides and bouncy foam ground covers with splintered old wooden climbing frames in hurry. The experts still haven’t grasped the implications of their research. They conclude with the following advice.

To improve playgrounds, Ms Walsh suggested longer and bigger slides built into embankments to eliminate falls.

Also, smooth boulders for balancing, shallow ponds for exploring and plenty of vegetation to provide nooks and crannies for children to crawl around.

But if children learn from risk taking, shouldn’t they build high fast slides, with no ground protection and sharp jagged boulders for balancing and deep ponds for exploring?

In any case, the finger pointing at engineers and playground designers was thoroughly dismissed in the comments, with molly-coddling litigious parents copping a bit of heat.

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