Risk Management: Using Safety Circles

Our regular Wednesday morning Mushrooms hike with toddlers and caregivers is not taking place tomorrow, due to training in Maine.  As part of gearing up for our adventures creating summer journals with Sprouts & Seedlings (age 3-11), this week we have had to climb trees, use sharp tools, work together in the rain, wear bug nets, cook over wood fires, sword fight with sticks, and do tick checks. This all comes into play during thoughtful planning and Preparation for safe and comfortable outdoor play.
“keeping children safe involves letting them take and manage risks.” -David Sleet https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/9/9/3134/pdf
 We are grateful to gather together with colleagues in Antioch’s Nature-Based Early Childhood Program, with experienced guides from Juniper Hill School and Chewonki.  So much of our safety in outdoor learning revolves around good gear, good leadership and tested lesson plans, but a surprising amount seems to be rooted in the adults having the trust and support to allow children to take risks in outdoor learning spaces.  Thankfully, our colleagues have done a lot of research that can demonstrate the benefits to tentative parents and teachers, and they share great tips from their experience.  One of my favorite terms:  the safety circle.
Considering our Sprouts & Seedlings summer enrichment?  Here is some of the risk management we will be cultivating in safety circles during our time together.
Tool use during journal making.  Every tool has a safety circle
Tool use during journal making. Every tool has a safety circle

Which kind of benefits do you see in taking outdoor learning risks?  

Potato peelers:  some fun ideas and guidelines for working with little ones outdoors in a nature-based safety circle.
Potato peelers: some fun ideas and guidelines for working on our “primitive skills” with little ones outdoors in a nature-based safety circle.
A colorful place to connect at Juniper Hill.  Sharing stories and learning skills in a safe circle.
Creating a colorful place to connect at Juniper Hill.  A safe circle to share stories and skills.
Our new skills open the doors for safer imaginative play with sticks.
Practice in using safety circles can open the doors for  imaginative play with sticks.
Which outdoor learning activities do you want to try, but fear the risks outweigh the benefits?  Even the lettuce challenge, in its very small green space, carried with it a lot of challenge and risk, don’t you think?
Thanks for taking some new risks with us!
Heard on Sunday at Third Sunday nature play, near the fern circles
Heard on Sunday at Third Sunday nature play, near the fern circles:  risk assessment from sibling to sibling “wait! Is that water or solid ground?”
How far ahead did you let your kids venture on Sunday's fairy adventure trail?
How far ahead did you let your kids venture on Sunday’s fairy adventure trail?  Do you set a safety circle when exploring new places and green spaces?
See you next week, in the garden, Mushrooms.  We hope you’ll still head out to enjoy the Pinetum this week, even though we won’t be exploring together.
To be a part of Summer Sprouts & Seedlings, please register ASAP at http://www.gecgreenwich.org/sprouts.html.  Together we are planting seeds for lifelong learning, healthy living, and good stewardship!
Warm Regards from Maine,
Ms. D
P.S.  When we say risk management, is this the first thing that comes to mind for any of You?  Any relationship or common skills?  Look at those colorful circles!
FINCAD Risk Management of a different sort - different kinds of safety circles to measure
FINCAD Risk Management of a different sort – different kinds of safety circles to measure
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