Kid’s play

May 25th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A misguided health and safety culture is threatening to render children’s play meaningless, early childhood providers are to be warned.

The United Kingdom-based founder of Outdoor Play and Learning (Opal), Michael Follett, says a “policy of fear” has reshaped play to the extent that children are losing out on vital learning.

“You are taking away their ability to learn through primary, first-hand experience, which is how children actually learn.

“They need to fall over, they need to cut themselves, have bumps and bruises.

“If you over-protect, they don’t learn resilience.”

So very true.

Mr Follett, who is a board member of advocacy group Play England, said the situation in the UK had become ridiculous.

“People are saying tree roots are dangerous … “

As a father of three, he said, he understood nobody wanted to see children hurt.

“Some of the health and safety stuff came from a genuine response to children getting killed and seriously hurt, and that is very sensible. But what’s not sensible is the idea that you can eliminate risk.”

The focus should be on the high end stuff. I think you need a resource consent today to build a tree hut!

12 Responses to “Kid’s play”

  1. Steve (North Shore) (4,969 comments) says:

    New business venture – corner the world market of cotton wool

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  2. flipper (5,304 comments) says:


    NOW For UK read New Zealand..

    My wife has been a qualified Early Childhood teacher (off and on, at all levels up to and including chairing a regional Kindergarten Assn), for more than 30 years.

    She says the Min of Edu edicts, derived largely from the influence of OSH, are absolute bullshit.

    For a different approach to over protection, take a close peek at Hereworth School, Havelock North. That school believes in all the things that the PC university teaching idiots abhor.

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  3. peterwn (4,291 comments) says:

    Remember the days of decent park playground swings – the ones you could really get swinging – 180 degree arc or a bit more – designed by the Council’s engineer’s department.

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  4. hmmokrightitis (1,919 comments) says:

    We have always strived to to do this with our kids, raise them outdoors as we were, and man it pays huge dividends, not only in their state of mind but also helping them to understand and manage risk.

    I took our eldest out on his new 29’er MTB over last Christmas, to Vegas, the holy trail grail ๐Ÿ™‚ First time he had ridden his bike. Up top to Billy T, grade 4. We took our time, he had a couple of minor off’s walked a couple of the harder bits, but rode probably 95%+ of one of the forests harder trails. Now, 6 months later, he nails it every single time, nearly glued to my arse, every so often shouting “faster old man”. Fucking awesome ๐Ÿ™‚

    So much so that I did the same with our 10 year old on his new bike a month ago. And now he’s the same. 10 and 12, and riding grade 4 trails, chasing the old man.

    Tell me that isn’t a huge life lesson – bringing up confident, aware and independent kids is THE best job in the whole wide world, bar none.

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  5. kowtow (13,240 comments) says:

    Government can legislate away all harm,all offensiveness,all hurt feelings and pain.It can apologise and compensate for historical grievances and make right all wrongs.
    It can legislate “equality”.

    It can do anything and everything,that’s what we want isn’t it?

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  6. nasska (16,776 comments) says:

    Strangely enough history gives us the exact date of the start of NZ kids’ slide into unhealthy mollycoddling. The Electoral Act passed into law on the 8th Sept 1893 providing for the emancipation of women.

    From that point it was inevitable that the risk averse harpies would prevail. Children would eventually move in from the outdoors & become pasty, fat wimps parked up in front of TVs with no sharp edges.

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  7. Fentex (3,332 comments) says:

    All my life I’ve heard people complaining that children aren’t allowed to play as they were and I’ve noticed in parks and playgrounds the removal of forts and bushes that can block observation, I assume for fear of clandestine actions.

    I’ve also seen a proliferation of interesting and colourful apparatus that could be pirate ships or star ships I wish I’d had for playing on as a kid.

    It all seems swings and roundabouts to me.

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  8. kowtow (13,240 comments) says:

    Ah yes ,the concept of universal suffrage,marvellous,”equality” and all that.

    “Equality” means that those who have less will vote for politicians who promise to take from those who have more. Great idea. Brilliant even.Legislated theft.

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  9. Manolo (22,078 comments) says:

    Emasculating the boys! The feminist P.G. will be delighted.

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  10. Chaucey (43 comments) says:

    Did the Herald actually use the phrase “early childhood providers”? Oh dear! That makes me laugh.
    Surely they mean “early childhood carers” or “early childhood educators” or even “early childhood resource providers”.
    The only person providing the actual childhood is the child.
    The article is just full of anecdotes, it doesn’t cover any details of changing regulations or anything like that.

    I don’t think that we have the same problems in NZ as they may do in the UK. The early childhood education curriculum in NZ (Te Whaariki) is play based, and follows the beliefs that children learn well through play.

    I am quite involved in Playcentre, and with good supervision we can try lots of “risky” activities – like letting 2 year olds try carpentry with real hammers and saws. The kids climb trees and ride trikes down slopes. They chop fruit and veges with real knives. The only remarkable accidents at my Playcentre have actually happened to adults – both times slipping and falling.
    This isn’t to say we don’t have safety rules, we supervise the kids, especially for eating and water play. We lock cleaning chemicals away. We don’t allow metal spades to be used in the sandpit if the kids have bare feet. We use appropriate common sense and the kids still get heaps of risk taking opportunities and play based learning.

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  11. Left Right and Centre (4,406 comments) says:

    kowtow 12:41 pm yeah.. I’m voting tree hugger and we’re gonna suck you dry man.

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  12. Reid (21,449 comments) says:

    It’s the same idiot thinking we saw from a bunch of female pre-school teachers who insisted the boys check their toy guns (“weapons”) out of the “gun store” and not point them at anybody and lie down like they were at a rifle range and fire them at a target and then check them back in again after they were finished.

    Yeah sure. That’ll really spin a 5 year old boy’s dials.

    Sadly, females have no idea at all how men (and boys) think. And equally sadly, they THINK they do. So consequently, shit like the above plus the subject of this post, happens. How come no-one calls bullshit? Because if they do, they get shouted down by said idiot females, for being tewwible agwessive hateful cweatures who just want to hurt people and who have black and cold hearts and no human feelings at all.

    Yes, that’s REALLY what happens. It is.

    It’d be funny if it wasn’t true, wouldn’t it.

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