Learning at Elements: Navigating Risk

At the end of last month, we had a family bonfire on a lovely Friday evening. The children roasted marshmallows to make s’mores. Everyone gathered around to chat, and it was just a really wonderful time.

Now, I know that encouraging young kids to toast s’mores may seem risky but the truth is that by allowing them to do so, we exposed them to fire and we taught them how to access and manage risk in a safe environment. Vigilant adults were all around them, watching them closely but they will still given an opportunity to have their experience at the bonfire, helping them manage their own reactions and trust their instincts.

It is the same principle we follow when we have the students chop vegetables or grate cheese as we make lunch. Of course the kitchen utensils are child-safe, and, again, there are watchful adults on hand. But the students are encouraged to take small risks – such as holding a knife, and slicing a carrot carefully.

Studies have proven that children recognise a new task will present something unknown to them. If they are supported in the exploration of that task, it gives them a chance to set their own limits and boundaries. As they grow older, this allows them to view challenges and problems with less anxiety, and be more confident in their abilities to deal with both success and failure.

Shilpa

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