Children are naturally and innately curious. The world is a big playground to them and for those at a younger age, every day is a day filled with adventure and exploration. However, to what degree can a parent decipher when exploration can be fun, educational and engaging and when it becomes a risky activity prone to falls and other frightful accidents? It’s a given for parents to be protective of their child, but there are many benefits in engaging and encouraging a child in safe exploration. Children between the ages of 2 and 5 begin to develop their emotional and social skills. Those prime years are crucial for children to learn how to manage their behaviors, emotions, and challenge their thinking skills.
Children are natural explores and risk takers — constantly moving, jumping, running, tasting, dropping and throwing things — which are logical reasons for parents and childcare providers to be extra cautious of. However, there are some ways to produce a safe and secure environment for the child but to also encourage safe and fun exploration at the same time.
Here are some tips parents and childcare providers can try to enable safe exploration for kids:
- Take your time and think carefully about how you would set up the environment. You want to provide children the freedom to explore but at the same time, you will have to ensure that the play space is child-safe and well-organized. Allowing the children that opportunity and freedom is an effective way to encourage learning and problem-solving.
- Try to consider what the child is seeing. Get down to their height and view their perspective. The flight of stairs may now look like an endless climb or the distance from the family room to the kitchen seems like an hour crawl. Pay attention to potential hazards when standing up, you may see accidents waiting to happen.
- If you plan of making your house the playground, make sure your play space in safe. While it’s important to let the child explore freely, you also want to be caution where the child might go or crawl into. Store medicines and dangerous chemicals away from children’s reach. Cover electrical outlets and lock up objects (glass wear, heavy metal etc.) that may fall or cause injury.
- Make up your “playground rules”. Be wise in how you want to regulate the child’s play space. You want to be sure that your child or children are in a play space that is not too wide or not too narrow. Offering a wide play space may cause the children to run wildly and a high risk of kids bumping into each other if the play space is too narrow. Your play ground rules may be not overcrowding an area, no running, no hitting, etc. Pay attention to their behavior and adjust the rules as needed.
- Make sure the children have access to educational toys. Be sure to also have enough toys. This will reduce the chances of children arguing over a toy by having more item they can pick from. Children of different ages are interested in different things so be sure to provide what is age appropriate and is within the children’s reach.
So whether the play space involves some crawling and climbing or if it’s sitting around reading and playing with education toys, parents and childcare providers can easily model their “playground” based on what age group the children are in. By planning appropriately, being aware of the hazards and managing it accordingly, any parent and childcare provider can encourage safe-exploration for children to learn, grow, and thrive.
To find more tips on safe exploration for children, click here.