Encourage children to play with support and guidance
Deciding to ban cartwheels and handstands in the school grounds is not the answer to encouraging safe play, according to Goodstart national safety manager Kylie Warren-Wright.
Responding to a recent story about a school banning cartwheels and handstands on News.com, Ms Warren-Wright said experimenting with risk was an important part of a child’s development.
“Understanding and experimenting with risk is a key life skill you never stop using,” Ms Warren-Wright said.
“From infancy to adulthood, there's always a new boundary to test or challenge to navigate and that’s why articles like this really frustrate me as a safety professional.”
Ms Warren-Wright said an educator’s job was to encourage children to play and develop with support and guidance.
The news article reported Bunbury Primary School in Western Australia had decided to ban cartwheels and handstands because of the dangers involved and the injuries reported.
“The principal notes that the children are doing cartwheels on slopes and handstands and flips on bitumen and that they don't know how to do them properly which is why they're getting injured,” Ms Warren-Wright said.
“What if instead of banning cartwheels, they found somewhere in the school where there was enough open space for the children to cartwheel until they became more competent?
“What if they found a nice grassed area where the children could do flips or handstands?
“What if a teacher volunteered to be a spotter for the more wobbly handstanders who need a wall to flip up against? There are so many more options than banning cartwheels.”
She said safety wasn’t about taking the fun out of life. It was about looking at how to provide support and guidance for children to develop competency and confidence.
“That's called "Hearts and Minds" and it's how we do safety at Goodstart. So the next time you read an article like this don't just roll your eyes and mutter bad things about safety, think about what we do and how you can use that to have a conversation with somebody else to help open their eyes.”
In 2012, a NSW school introduced a similar ban, and a Queensland school followed in 2014.