Wednesday, 2 July 2014


I am more and more convinced that the approach to children risk taking at all levels, be it treasure baskets or hill climbing, is for us big people to become concerned observers not instigators or helpers.

In one of our nurseries the swings are at very low level so the children can control them themselves, however, the horse swing has to be higher so the children have placed a chair strategically by it to get themselves on and off. Then the old fence (taken down to open up the area) has become incorporated around a perfect climbing tree to create ramps and platforms and the children can now decide both if they want to climb and how far they want to climb – up to the top of the tree, or just up to the platform or to sit on a log and watch...

                                                                                         The Horse Swing.

Then last week I saw that the huge thick ropes had been knotted and hung from a tree and this now provides a different and varied challenge – and sharing and turn taking is combined with the reality of stepping aside when someone is swinging or....

Then I spotted one of the children climbing higher in a nearby tree and confidently hanging off a branch with his feet about 4 foot (1.3 metres!) off the ground (quite a long way for a two and a half year old) and he hung there and swung back up and then hung there and swung back up....  Then I saw one of the team going towards him and I was fearful that this was going to be ‘let’s get you down before you hurt yourself’ time.  I was delighted to see them talking together and a quick discussion about the fact that there were two strong branches and one thinner one – so a bit of advice, don’t hang on the thin one.

It is an imperative that we are all aware of the benefits of children deciding for themselves and this really does illustrate how we can provide a different kind of CPD – which is Child-led Play Decisions aided and abetted by us big people giving the steer and being there with and for them.

                                                                      Here, one of them has lost a welly!

                                                             Instead of having to climb back down to retrieve the welly
                                                             the child gets a helping hand from a friend.

                                                                   Now they can get back on with the task of climbing
                                                                                             the tree!

Tom Shea
All Images used are the property of Child First Nursery Moulton 


  1. Great experiences and opportunities for these children.

  2. For her tree-climbing is part of bringing balance to her childhood, which is generally filled with princess dress-up and dolls. I love seeing the tomboy emerge... you need best rated tree climber stand