There’s a certain feeling when the doorbell rings and it’s the kids from down the street calling for my kids to come out and play. It brings a warm nostalgia and I can’t help but smile.
The Kids were feeling cooped up in the flat (we were previously in a townhouse with a garden and garage) and there isn’t really much space [in the flat] to play so when I saw some local kids of the same age playing outside I was keen to introduce them to my kids. Since that day I have been happily letting them ‘play out’ without adult supervision.
I imagine there are many who are horrified that I let The Kids play outside without supervision. There are so many risks, right? I am as careful as I can be but I must also help The Kids to develop their own radar.
I am in no way advocating that you should send your children outside, leave them to it and cross your fingers.
Before I agreed to let The Kids play out we discussed it over several months. When I mentioned it for the first time M was 7/8yo and he was happy to let me know that he was not ready. Months later he brought up the subject [good to see he’d been thinking about it] and said he would like to try playing out so we did.
We tried it with The Kids playing directly in front of our house and I observed closely. After they came in we talked about how they felt when they were playing out and if they would like to do it again. We built on that.
Children take their cues from the adults around them so we must show them how we do our own safety checks, get them to help you check the road when crossing, observe the people around you, talk through potential scenarios and possible outcomes. Ask yourself:
-Are your children mature enough to be allowed out on their own?
-Is there a safe space to play?
-Can they get to and from your home safely?
-Is there a road to cross?
-Are they confident about crossing safely?
-Are you confident about their road crossing?
-Have you shadowed them so that you both know they can do it safely?
-Do they know how to play safely with others?
-Do they know what to do if something bad happens?
Risk is a natural part of life; if you trust them they will trust themselves.