Dr. Lomino in China: March 15
March 15: Safety in the Forest
One of the boys fell a couple of days ago in the Forest and his mother was very concerned. She started a group conversation on WeChat about safety in the Forest. It didn’t take long for the parents to make their voices heard and the company responded by scheduling a meeting for this weekend. I am hearing worries about normal situations in nature, such as exposed tree roots and rocks. I believe that parents want to alter nature, and in their efforts for safety they are taking away opportunities for children to experience some risk that is necessary for their growth. It sounds like they want to “smooth out” the forest and take away all risk—which is of course impossible. Other than putting children into protective bubbles, they will always be exposed to risk wherever they go.
I believe the greatest potential for injury is due to the large number of children and adults who share a relatively small space. Another problem are the manmade items like ropes strung between two trees (where the little boy fell.) And the walkway is a concrete road. The hard surface is a potential risk of course, just as when children ride bikes and scooters on roads and sidewalks.
One of the company leaders, Vivi, asked me to post a comment on the parent WeChat group, which I did. I reminded them that as a mother, grandmother and teacher I too want my children to be as safe as possible. But I also told them that an important concept in Forest Kindergarten philosophy is allowing children to experience the normal risks present in nature such as walking across a log, climbing a tree, etc. Without opportunities to identify, assess and overcome risk, children miss a very important part of development. I hope they will think about this!
Today’s Insight: Thinking back on my own childhood, my parents allowed my brother and me to play freely outside as often as possible. I’m sure when we were very young we were carefully supervised, but given the chance to do things on our own under their watchful eyes. Consequently, we grew up to be confident and adventurous. I consider risk-taking to be one of my greatest strengths. I have learned to take calculated risks physically and also in my career. This ability makes me a stronger and more effective human. It is something our children need as well! And Forest Kindergarten is the ideal place to practice and overcome challenges!