Trees, ice, climbers – Risky Play in School Age

“Risky play has many advantages for young children, and more often than not, is when children are having the most fun during their play.”

Child dangling from tree branch with big smile

At our Kawartha Heights School Age program we really try to implement risky play when we are indoors and outdoors with the children. We fully support the idea of risky play because it is proven to help progress children’s development on many levels. From physical to mental development, risky play has many advantages for young children, and more often than not, is when children are having the most fun during their play. Risky play is a huge factor in children simply getting to be children, and here are some ways Compass Early Learning and Care implements and supports risky play here at the Kawartha Heights location.

Climbing Trees

Here at Kawartha Heights we are lucky enough to have a couple trees out on our playground for the children to play with and make their own. The children love to climb, and have even started to master this skill over the years of being with us! When the children are interested in climbing the trees while we are outside they are always supervised. An educator is always standing nearby watching, and making sure they have 4 points of contact with the tree so their play can be done in the safest way, but also allowing them to enjoy their time. Climbing trees helps build their stability, coordination, and strength. At our program we have even noticed that the more children climb and develop new skills, the more confidence they have in themselves and the more confidence they have helping other children. It is amazing to see them grow, encourage each other, and to allow these children the opportunity to develop these skills and to further their physical and mental development.


children sliding down sheer ice hill

At Kawartha Heights some would say it is unfortunate the way our yard freezes over when we get freezing rain or when snow freezes, however the children simply love it. Picture this: an entire field and giant hill all frozen over to make an exhilarating ice rink! Now of course, when we are outside in these conditions, the children are all dressed appropriately and all educators position themselves to have eyes on all children at all times. They get to slide down the hill with super speed, be penguins, ice skaters, ice dancers, or anything else their amazing imaginations come up with. Allowing these children the opportunity to play on the ice helps improve their balance, coordination, and is amazing physical exercise. Seeing these children develop the agility and coordination to safely play on the ice is incredible. Their confidence increases as well, and they are always willing to help a friend learn how to maneuver on the ice.


Two children on swings leaning into each other

The equipment provided at Kawartha Heights also allows for amazing risky play opportunities here at our program. The children have managed to come up with creative ways to really use the equipment provided to the fullest. When playing games like grounders, the slide isn’t just something to go down, but also a way to escape getting tagged, by using their coordination and creativity to stand on the slide and stay just out of reach. This example of risky play really helps with their physical development and challenges their mental development in coming up with new ways to conquer their favourite games. Another piece of equipment that the children here love to use are the swings. The swings provide the children with a chance to be creative with their mental and physical approaches. How can the swings be more fun without simply sitting on your bum? Well, why not try spinning, or being on your knees, or even your belly!? These examples are exactly what our children have done, and they love it. The different styles of swinging and games they’ve created allow for many factors of growth. Two factors in particular that we have noticed with our children is their growth in balance and confidence! Children who typically struggle with balance have been showing amazing improvements, and those who used to be scared of the swings, now show no fear and love to swing as high as they can, showing an amazing sense of pride.

~ Kendyl Young, Site Supervisor
Kawartha Heights School Age Program, Compass ELC