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Young children, the outdoors and nature
Young children, the outdoors and nature

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3.2 Thinking about risk

You will be looking in more detail in Session 4 about risk, but it would be good here to record some of your thoughts so far.

Activity 2 Thinking about risk

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Think how you would respond to the following questions and make some notes in your Learning journal or the text box below.

  • Babies need to be kept safe, but can you see any disadvantages in keeping babies apart from older children?
  • What other considerations would practitioners have to make to keep babies safe outdoors? Why do you think this?
  • What are the implications of putting too strong an emphasis on particular safety measures?
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You can read this extract from Kemp and Josephidou’s report ‘Where are the babies?’ where they consider some of these questions:

The idea that the outdoors is a risky space for babies is revealed in their absence from the research literature. Throughout this review, we read papers which promised a focus on under twos or birth to threes but found a sustained focus on toddlers leading us to ask, ‘where are the babies?’. One reason for this suggested in some papers were practitioner concerns about being able to keep the very youngest children safe outside. For example, if older children were playing on equipment such as bikes it was important to keep the babies apart so that they would not be in any danger. This was apparent in one paper in the Australian context where children of different ages shared one outdoor learning environment. When interviewed, practitioners revealed that although they saw many benefits to this vertical grouping of children, they had concerns around keeping the youngest children safe whilst supervising the older children. In practice then, out of necessity, the babies became ‘isolated in a small play space to keep them safe’ (Rouse, 2015, p. 748). In this way we see a clear connection between risk management concerns and the invisibility of the youngest children in the outdoor environment’.

(Kemp and Josephidou, 2020, p. 7)