By outdoor educator, father and Wearthy play expert, Lukas Ritson

Before you assume the worst. Let me put this into perspective – when it comes to play there is very much a difference between a hazard and a risk.

A hazard is likely to instil harm, whereas a risk involves uncertainty about the outcome of an activity, creating the opportunity to overcome potential danger.

That said, play is a vital element of your child’s lifelong development, the outdoors is their arena for developing essential learning and skills. Risky play is essential within that. As a play expert and outdoor educator, I cannot stress enough the importance of outdoor play for building a generation of healthier and happier humans.

So as we head into the summer holidays, I’m encouraging parents to loosen the reins a little.

Here are my top five activities that you should do these holidays…

Risky play

This is where your saw might come in. Risk, and learning to overcome risk, is the foundation for resilience. It builds a sense of fearlessness that empowers us to be confident and self-aware.

Allowing your child to explore with risky play, such as trimming a tree branch using a saw (under supervision), enhances your child’s motor skills, ability to focus, and helps them understand the importance of being adaptable yet careful while achieving a goal.

Play expert, Lukas Ritson says risk, and learning to overcome risk, is the foundation for resilience.

Water play

This creates a setting where children can become aware of their physical capabilities, making them more likely to achieve goals. Plus it’s lots of fun.

Using items around the home – cups and containers of different sizes along with things that might float and sink for example will all work – and best of all transferring water from one to another helps enhance concentration and coordination while introducing key mathematical concepts like weight and volume.

Loose parts play

Loose parts play is the type of chaos that children are drawn to. This is about allowing kids to solve their own puzzles, create new patterns and work through challenges.

So, for example, you might give your child a bag and ask them to collect items from around the garden that can be held in one hand, then ask them to showcase them to you. This will encourage them to organise, count and categorise in any way that they are inspired by.

Celebrate the dirt, mud, sand and water that bind play and learning together!

Sensory play

The first step to understanding connection is through stimulating our senses. Creating play environments that provide varying touch, sight, sound, smell, and taste will help build neural pathways and nerve connections that are essential for development. Nature can be your best friend here.

Simply go find a tree – what are the differences between textures of the bark, branches and leaves, how do they look, how do they feel? The opportunities are endless and in turn physical awareness and strength, problem solving and social interaction.

Get dirty!

A major challenge children face today is increasing disconnect with nature. Adults make the mistake of trying to “teach” connection – but children already inherently know how to connect. Instead, we can support them by creating a space for those values to be encouraged, explored, and elevated. So, let’s celebrate the dirt, mud, sand and water that bind play and learning together!

I’d leave you with one thought as you head into the holidays – how did you like to play as a kid? I bet it was outdoors, messy and exciting.

So this summer holidays make the time to bring in those elements and be present in your child’s activities – I guarantee you won’t be scrolling on your phone if your child is wielding a saw!