Australia: Playing with fire: the childcare centres exposing children to risk - PressFrom - Australia

AustraliaPlaying with fire: the childcare centres exposing children to risk

16:54  13 july  2019
16:54  13 july  2019 Source:

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Children need to be exposed to risky play . Learning to light a fire is a rite of passage for most children , and from the age of three they can be actively involved in feeding and managing a small bonfire.

Children need to learn how to keep themselves safe in a variety of different situations and it is important that we work closely with them to enable We think carefully about the risk vs benefits of activities we plan for the children . We all know that thrown sand can cause a lot of problems if it goes

Playing with fire: the childcare centres exposing children to risk© Eddie Jim Kinder kids learn how to light fires at the East West Child Care Association in Fitzroy.

Five-year-old Remy has been lighting fires at his Fitzroy child care centre and his teachers haven't batted an eyelid.

Instead of shielding children from every hazard, East West Child Care Association is among a growing number of centres that promote what is known as “risky play”.

Toddlers cut fruit with knives, sew pieces of material together with needles and climb trees in the centre’s rambling yard.

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Children 's play has long been understood to have a key role, both in their wellbeing and satisfaction At real play , children are in charge, instinctively making hundreds of decisions as they assess and determine They will build their own dens, sit around fires , throw water over each other, grow things

Letting children slip the leash and engage in risky outdoor play offers huge benefits to physical, emotional and social health, says Mariana It’s a little unusual, an injury-prevention researcher promoting risk -taking. Q: Your research reviewed 18 studies that examined “ play where children can

On Friday, Remy struck a match and ignited a scrunched up piece of newspaper in the outdoor firepit.

After a few minutes, flames started licking the kindling that his peers had carefully assembled and Remy stepped back to watch.

“I like the flames,” he says. “It keeps us warm and we can cook on them.”

About two years ago, and under the close supervision of adults, the centre introduced its 45 children to fire.

They started with candles in jars at mealtimes before moving onto weekly outdoor fires.

“We have always allowed them to experience risk,” said Ruth Harper, one of the centre’s coordinators. “You have to respect and trust children.”

Children have learnt how to extinguish flames with a bucket of water, monitor heat by carefully tapping the firepit with the backs of their hands and cook jaffles in the coals. Most importantly, staff say they’ve learnt how to play safely around fire.

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Nearly 100 children were exposed to infectious tuberculosis at an inner-city childcare centre over summer, health authorities have warned. She said the person with TB was currently receiving treatment and there was no ongoing risk to children and staff at the childcare centre .

Playschools give children an opportunity to play with other children of a similar age, learn to share and take turns and to understand the rules of the The Scheme will be available to children attending a childcare provider registered with Tusla – including centre -based providers and child minders.

“Do not run around fires or play funny games around the fire,” Remy tells his classmates, who are sitting around the firepit warming their feet.

The benefits of this approach to play are highlighted in research by University of Newcastle academics and early childhood educators, who found exposing children to risk boosted their confidence, teamwork skills and awareness of safety and danger.

The research involved 60 babies, toddlers and preschoolers at Adamstown Early Learning and Preschool in Newcastle, a centre where children light fires with flint sticks, use knives and splash in deep tubs of water. They have also built a cubby with powertools.

The centre's director, Kate Higginbottom said concerns around litigation were deterring early childhood educators from risky play.

“It definitely is still somewhat controversial in early education services," she said. "We know we have regulations, but they don’t involve eliminating all risks."

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It is vital that our children are well cared for, but we can't all be with them 24 hours a day. Looking for childcare ? Whether Long Day Care , Family Daycare, an Early Learning Center , a Kindergarten, a Pre-school, a Nanny or a Babysitter are what you need - look around.

Sure Start Children 's Centres . After school clubs. What isn't covered? The 30 hours free childcare offer is not intended to cover the costs of meals, other consumables (such as nappies or sun cream), additional hours or additional activities (such as trips). Providers may charge a fee for these additions.

Project leader and associate professor Linda Newman said helicopter parenting could lead to a situation where children lacked the skills to deal with danger.

“If kids don't learn how to take risks safely then sometimes they can take risks dangerously,” she said.

“They haven't been prepared for monitoring their own actions and don’t think about what might happen.”

While many educators sing praise for risky play, a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Fire Brigade questioned whether such young children could retain information about fire safety.

“MFB does not deliver structured fire safety programs to children below primary school age. This decision is based on research which found that children under five experienced a low retention rate for the information taught,” she said.

North Fitzroy Childcare Co-operative also teaches children about fire, and toddlers and preschoolers love sorting kindling, tinder and logs into piles.

While staff light the fuel in the firepit, assistant director Anthony Morris said the experience taught children about danger and gave them a “real experience”.

“In today’s society some of the way we access cooking and heat is through the press of a button,” he said. “This lets them get back to nature.”

On the other side of town at St Kilda Balaclava Kindergarten, children gather sticks and pinecones every day during winter in preparation for the fire.

They assemble logs, kindling and paper in the centre’s two fireplaces and use the coals to cook damper, chestnuts and even pancakes.

“They’ve learnt that it’s not a good idea to touch fire, that it was used for cooking before electricity and that it creates warmth,” said the centre’s early childhood educator Andrea Cubic. She said staff lit the fires, but children were very involved in the process.

During winter, children will often sleep in front of the fire behind a large screen.

“It smells beautiful,” said Ms Cubic.

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