Everyday life is full of risks and challenges, and at Little Scholars, we believe children need opportunities to develop the skills associated with managing risk and making informed judgements about risks from a very young age. Risky play helps to develop important life skill learnings such as; building resilience and persistence, critical-thinking skills, self-confidence and even extends their frustration tolerance.

 

We get it—no one wants to see little ones get hurt. It’s almost instinctual to hover nearby in case they stumble or to call out ‘be careful!’ when they’re taking risks. But could this actually be sending the message that we don’t trust their capabilities or instincts? Historical trends show that since the 1960s, there’s been a shift in how we view children. Once considered competent, responsible, and resilient, the modern perspective leans more towards constant supervision and protection. What used to be unrestricted and often unsupervised outdoor play has transitioned to structured, closely watched, and frequently indoor activities.

A lot of research has been devoted around the world to risky or adventurous play, and how parental attitudes as well as other factors played a part in children’s activities.

Risk and parents' attitudes

Recent research from Deakin University examined the connection between parent attitudes towards risk and injury and children’s adventurous play and physical activity. The study aims to explore the potential advantages of adventurous play in promoting moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) in children. It found while parents want their children to have opportunities to develop the above mentions skills associated with managing risky play, upwards of 78 per cent of the 645 Australian parents who participated in the study had a low tolerance of risk when presented with a series of play scenarios. More mothers than fathers who participated were more uneasy of the risky possibilities in the play scenarios, though it’s worth highlighting about 80 per cent of the online survey participants were female.
But, the researchers found children of parents with more positive attitudes to risk and injury had more adventurous play.
 
Adventurous play has the potential to promote moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) in children. Engaging in adventurous play, such as climbing high structures, riding bikes or scooters fast, or play-fighting, requires children to exert physical effort and energy. These types of activities often involve higher levels of intensity and movement, which can contribute to increased MVPA.

By participating in adventurous play, children are more likely to engage in activities that elevate their heart rate and breathing, leading to increased energy expenditure. This can help children meet the recommended guidelines for MVPA, which is at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily.

‘Educators facilitate gradual exposure to controlled risks, allowing children to develop confidence and judgment, ultimately empowering them to make informed decisions when navigating different situations.’

-Kristen Guymer

Adventurous play also offers opportunities for children to develop and enhance their motor skills, coordination, balance, and strength. These physical skills are essential for overall physical development and can contribute to improved physical fitness.

Furthermore, adventurous play provides children with opportunities to explore their environment, take risks, and challenge themselves. This type of play promotes creativity, problem-solving, and decision-making skills, as children navigate and overcome obstacles. It also fosters a sense of adventure, independence, and self-confidence.

Overall, adventurous play can be a fun and engaging way for children to meet their daily MVPA requirements while promoting physical fitness, skill development, and personal growth.

One Canadian study looked at the benefits presented by encouraging risky play in early learning settings. Researchers measured changes in play, social behaviour, psychological wellbeing, and physical activity in 45 children aged two to five years. Their findings showed significant decreases in depressive states, antisocial behaviour and moderate to vigorous (unsafe) physical activity, and increases in play with natural materials, independent play, and prosocial behaviours. Early Childhood Educators observed improved socialisation, problem-solving, focus, self-regulation, creativity and self-confidence, and reduced stress, boredom and injury.
 
Research shows that engaging in risky play can actually reduce the risk of injury, too. Something parents and educators can do is teach young children to risk-assess.

Risky play and adventure awaits at Little Scholars

At Little Scholars, we recognise the importance of letting children take risks and gaining confidence in their own bodies and abilities. Educators employ various methods to teach children how to assess risks, regardless of it being a familiar or unfamiliar setting, according to Kristen Guymer, a lead educator in the early learners studio at our Pacific Pines campus.

“We emphasise the importance of careful observation, encouraging children to identify potential hazards by looking, listening, and even touching when safe,” she says. “Educators also foster critical thinking by asking questions that prompt risk assessment, such as, ‘What could go wrong if…?’ We promote collaboration and communication, allowing children to discuss and share their perceptions of risk.”

Furthermore, Kristen shares, educators facilitate gradual exposure to controlled risks, allowing children to develop confidence and judgment, ultimately empowering them to make informed decisions when navigating different situations.

Before embarking on Bush Kinder experiences or similar activities, educators guide children through risk assessments:

  • Safety briefings – educators provide clear safety guidelines and explain the potential risks associated with an activity. This emphasises the importance of following instructions and identifying safe boundaries
  • Skill development – educators gradually introduce and build essential skills, such as climbing, or using tools, ensuring children progressively develop the physical and cognitive abilities required to manage risks
  • Reflection and discussion – in the older studios, after each activity, educators engage in discussions with children to reflect on their experiences, encouraging them to identify challenges they overcame, risks they managed, and lessons learned.

Hayley Yates, a lead educator at our Yatala campus agrees that discussions with children previously help prepare for and mitigate risk.

“We support risky play through our discussions with the children,” Hayley says. “If it’s something that has a big risk, example climbing trees, we talk about what we should look out for when climbing, how big the branches need to be to be safe and things of that nature. For both the younger and older children we use language like ‘Notice how this is this? Another example would be walking on slippery rocks, I would say ‘notice how that rock is wet? That might be slippery’, then giving them the option to continue to that rock or a different one.”

Hayley says through important discussions educators are guiding children by asking questions and role modelling safe behaviours.

We offer our little scholars the chance to get away from the get outside and enjoy the natural playground our environment offers us. It also allows them to assess and take risks that are so pertinent to their development, wellbeing and even their memories. Bush kinder is that reset, that step outside into fresh and get an education completely unique to any other they receive or will receive.

What is Bush Kinder?

Bush Kinder is a nature-based learning program designed to help children develop an appreciation for the outdoors and its many wonders. Bush kinder offers children an education that is a tremendous complement to the enriched educational program they receive at Little Scholars.
Bk E1697071474911 254x300

At Little Scholars, we believe that spending time in nature has numerous benefits for children, including improved physical health and strength, enhanced cognitive development, and better emotional regulation. Through our Bush Kinder program, children have the opportunity to connect with nature on a deep level, learn about the environment, be challenged beyond the classroom, and engage in meaningful, hands-on experiences.

During our Bush Kinder sessions, children have the opportunity to engage in a range of activities, from nature walks and bird watching to building shelters and learning about indigenous culture. Children climb, scramble, jump and more in nature’s playground.

In this natural environment, children encounter diversity, novelty, challenges, and even some calculated risks. Their senses come alive as they engage with sticks, tree holes, water, rocks, sand, and dirt—nature’s abundant toys.

Our Bush Kinder educators are highly experienced and qualified in outdoor education and child development. They are passionate about providing children with meaningful learning experiences in a safe and supportive environment. We take the safety and security of our children very seriously. Our Bush Kinder program is conducted in a safe and secure outdoor environment, with strict protocols in place to ensure the well-being of all children.

But risky play is not limited to bush kinder.

Our outdoor areas are thoughtfully designed, including forts and equipment, all with intention of helping children navigate risk, endure challenges and build motor and fine motor skills.

Helena Vairy, an educator at our Ormeau Village campus, shares an example of how she helps children assess risk and how to complete ‘risky’ tasks safely.

“The way I like to teach children to access risk are by providing them with the materials which are needed and seeing how the children act on these,” Helena says. “

“The other week myself and a couple of the Kindergarten children set up the sandpit I placed the crates in a line and stacked one on top of the other. One child Mahli said ‘this looks like a runway maybe we can walk and then jump off the crates.’ What a great idea this was, the children were nervous at first but I stood right next to them to help. I asked the children, ‘do you think you can jump off the crated and land with your feet flat?’ I then demonstrated and the children too were off jumping.

Jump E1697070641643 300x300
At the start of this experience, I asked the children, ‘would you like me to hold your hand while you jump?’ or ‘let’s count to three and then jump,’ this encouraged the children to not feel nervous and that someone was there to support them if they needed them. Five minutes after setting this experience up, there was a line up to jump off the crates the children all started saying ‘1 2 3 jump all together!’ We had a helper who racked the jump area to make the faller soft if their peers needed it.’

We love this story because it shares how children lead their own learning experience, consider risks, and support and encourage each other.

All of our campuses have recently introduced woodworking stations, designed to help children exercise their creative and critical thinking skills. It allows them to express their ideas and figure out solutions to their projects. It’s also a great way to introduce risky play, as the risks are managed and educators are actively supervising, but woodworking teaches children about safety and understanding risk.

“As they pick up their hammers, they’re getting ready to work on their pincer grip,” says Katie, educational leader at our Parkwood campus. “Things like that prepare them for school. In order to prepare to help the children use these safely, we’ve been having group discussions and asking them different questions about how to use the tools, what they think the tools do and what they can make in the future.”

It’s clear that risky play isn’t just about letting children run wild; it’s a calculated approach to help them develop essential life skills. At Little Scholars, we’re not just about keeping your little ones safe; we’re about preparing them for life. Our educators are trained to guide children in assessing risks, making it a learning experience that builds confidence and safe judgment. So, parents, it might be time to loosen the reins a bit. Let’s trust our children to make informed decisions, even if it means resisting the urge to shout, ‘Be careful!’ every so often. After all, life is full of risks and challenges, and what better time to learn how to navigate them than in the formative early years? You’ll be amazed at what they can achieve when given the freedom to explore, assess, and conquer.

We know you want to give your child the best possible start in life. We foster nurturing relationships between our educators and your child, building and gaining their trust so we can support your child as they take on risks and challenges safely and confidently. Book a tour today to get started!

Further reading:

If you’re after the best playgrounds in the Gold Coast, Brisbane, and Redland areas, look no further. Here we cover all of the top playgrounds in the region so that you can have a fun day out with your little one no matter where your adventures take you!

We think South East Queensland has really stepped up its game when it comes to offering some great play spaces for the young, and the young at heart. We like these playgrounds because of their nature themes, as well as adventurous play-designed spaces. Adventure play, also known as ‘risky’ play, is an important part of childhood, it develops physical skills, problem-solving, self-assessment, and risk detection skills, and something we encourage in our campuses and in our curriculum! So we thought we’d share our favourite playgrounds on both the southern and northern ends of the Gold Coast and Brisbane!

Southern Gold Coast

Livvi's Place at Goorimahbah - Place of Stories Playground

Straddling the border of Queensland and New South Wales at Jack Evans Boat Harbour sits an impressive new inclusive playground, Livvi’s Place at Goorimahbah – Place of Stories Playground.

This fully-fenced playground has play equipment so everyone can all play together, and includes two climbing towers with interactive play equipment, including binoculars and sound tubes, a carousel, a double flying fox, multiple swings, suspended rope bridge and an enclosed slide. There is also water and sand play, carved wooden animals, a water pump and sand table, and some accessible musical elements too!

The playground integrates stories of the Indigenous Seasons Calendar through art, colour, and storytelling. Children can wind the player up and then select a season and listen to Indigenous stories.

There are barbecues, shaded seating and shaded grass mounds to encourage social gatherings and picnics, and public toilets nearby. Parking is on the street. The second stage of development works was just completed at the end of 2023 and includes a youth recreation area, an Aboriginal Memorial Wall, as well as additional seating, picnic tables and barbeques facilities outside of the fenced play space.

Palm Beach Pirate Park

The new and improved Pirate Park at Palm Beach is finally finished, and it’s GREAT. After 12 years, this beloved southern Gold Coast playground had reached the end of its life, so the city kicked in $1.4M to revamp the space, located at Palm Beach Parklands, right on Currumbin Creek. The new design maintains the popular pirate ship theme, and provides a variety of different play opportunities and experiences for a range of ages. The new pirate ship play structure includes:

  • Climbing nets and ropes
  • Suspension bridge
  • Telescopes, cannons, interactive panels
  • Imaginary play elements
  • 7-metre-high crow’s nest towers
  • 8-metre-long tunnel slide
  • Swings
  • Flying fox
  • Spinning globe
  • Large basket swing
  • Row boats with talk tubes
  • Caves
  • Hammock
  • Sensory play elements
There are public toilets nearby, BBQs and the Dune Cafe steps away, as well as creek, which makes for a perfect day out! Just beware it’s a busy playground and parking fills quickly!

Schuster Park, Tallebudgera

Schuster Park adventure playground in Tallebudgera is not to be missed! We suggest it’s best for children ages 4+ as it’s a climber’s dream with two giant slides off the main tower, with a series of nature paths, with balance beams, jumping posts, sand paths with drums, and musical flowers, and stepping stones for your little adventurers. Plus there’s a small beach if you need to cool off, and two BBQs and a toilet block right next to the playground!

Tugun Park, Tugun

This castle-themed playground at Tugun Park is great for imaginative play, including a double Medieval Tower, a Drawbridge, a Knight and a Horse! There are arches, shields and bridges and more, all sure to inspire fun and games. Plus, there are two large tunnel slides and one open slides, all sure to delight. A swing set also entertains, with a parent and child swing alongside the traditional swings.

It’s important to note there are no shade sails over this playground, but the location is very cool and shady, with large trees and covered picnic tables. It is not fully fenced, but a fence does run along the carpark side of the playground, while the open side opens to large grassy spaces. There are also numerous picnic tables and BBQs right by the playground as well as toilets!

Galleon Park, Currumbin Waters

Nestled away on Galleon Way in Currumbin Waters, Galleon Park is a hidden gem offering a myriad of activities for families. This exceptional park boasts a variety of features including a learn-to-ride track, a playground suitable for both toddlers and older children, a basketball court, expansive grassy areas, picnic shelters, and convenient toilet facilities.

The playground received a comprehensive upgrade in late 2021, introducing an array of equipment designed to entertain children of all ages. The toddler section is thoughtfully shaded under a canopy, while the rest of the playground benefits from natural shade provided by surrounding trees. Attractions include slides, climbing ropes, a flying fox, swings, and seesaws.

Adjacent to the playground, there’s an impressive learn-to-ride track complete with roundabouts, traffic signs, and crossings, making it an ideal spot for young cyclists and skaters, including those on trikes, bikes, scooters, and skateboards. Parents will appreciate the ample seating available, offering a perfect view to oversee their little ones in action.

The park also features additional amenities such as a picnic shelter with BBQ facilities, a modern toilet block, and a basketball court. With plenty of open grassy space, it’s the perfect spot to lay down a picnic blanket and enjoy a leisurely visit.

Laguna Park, Palm Beach

The Laguna Park playground in Palm Beach is a great playground for ages 2+, check out the huge adventure playground, pirate ship, slides and rockers, a pedal power monorail, funny faces interactive boards and more. The entire playground is fenced, which is great for the little ones, and it also includes a Liberty Swing for kids in wheelchairs. Much of the playground is shaded by sails, and there are toilets nearby. The playground is surrounded by a lovely lake and a walking trail. A great bonus is that Laguna Park is steps away from Third Base coffee!

Bill Thomson Park, Elanora

Bill Thomson Park in Elanora has recently received an upgrade. Located next to Pine Lake, this medieval-themed playground has really brought the neighbourhood together like never before!

There are turrets and bridges connecting the playground together to create one large castle. A large flying fox runs along the lakeside of the playground, there are internal and external slides, a great swing set and plenty of imaginative play opportunities. This playground is more aimed at slightly older children, but agile toddlers can get around most of it as well.

In the same area, you will find basketball court, picnic shelter great for birthday parties and public toilets. Located a short walk around the lake is The Pines Shopping Centre, so you can grab everything you need for a picnic or just a coffee.

This playground is not fenced and steps away from the lake, so adult supervision is a must.

Robert Neumann Park, Currumbin

The Robert Neumann Park is smaller than some of the other playgrounds we’ve listed, but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun!

This nature-based playground has two mega slides, a toddler slide, climbing opportunities and swings. Note it is not fenced and sits near a duck pond, so adult supervision is a must! However it does have shade sails, a picnic gazebo, and BBQ is available, as well as toilets onsite and big open grassy spaces to run around.

Frascott Park Safari Playground, Varsity Lakes

Frascott Park has two playgrounds!

Accessed via Yodelay Street or Mattocks Road, the most popular section of the park is the Mattocks Road entrance safari-themed playground. Here you’ll find two play structures, one for the bigger kids and one for the toddlers. A huge slide and flying fox are keen favourites, while little ones will love driving the safari jeep.

The second playground is located by Yodelay Street and is well suited for younger children. There is lots of natural shade, and easy climbing opportunities on the playground. The playground includes bridges, a slide, merry-go-round, swing set and spider net.

Ronnie Long Park, Tallebudgera

The Ronnie Long Park is a great set of two playgrounds between the Tallebudgera Surf Club and the beach. With one playground suited toward slightly bigger children, it’s partially fenced, has a big climbing tower, large nest swing, spinning frame, and rockers. This area is shaded and has a rubber floor, while the second playground is more suited to toddlers. There’s a slide, two swings and a plane to climb in and on. This area is also shaded with a sand floor. Behind the playground is the surf club’s cafe for parents. There are toilets and BBQs nearby. Just beware, because the playgrounds are steps away from Tallebudgera Creek, parking can be a challenge on nice days.

Deodar Park, Burleigh Waters

Deodar Park is home to a total of seven slides, including a mega slide (which of course means mega fun!). Partly covered by shade sails, this small but mighty playground has elements suitable for a range of ages. Here you will find climbing opportunities, a flying fox, interactive panels, swings, a seesaw, balance rope and tunnels.

Alongside the playground is a fenced BMX pump track, suited to confident young riders. There is also a concrete basketball court and a large grassed area that allows for dogs off-leash.

There’s also a drinking fountain, picnic shelter, picnic tables. Note, there aren’t toilets located near the playground.

Broadwater Parklands

The Broadwater Parklands playground is one of the most beloved play areas on the Gold Coast with several fun areas for children to explore, and recently got a $5M upgrade with a new spiral tower over four levels, with interactive play equipment like a glockenspiel, binoculars, telescopes, suspended nets, rope tunnels and an enclosed slide.

There’s also a water and sand play area with carved sandstone, bronze sea animals, water pumps, mini weirs and water gates, an elevated sand table designed as a ‘fish and chip shop’ that can accommodate wheelchairs

Play equipment including play panels, swings, slides, trampolines, diggers, stepping stones, balance beams, a carousel, climbing walls, and climbing nets

And that’s just the upgrades. Further down the park, there’s also the huge fenced bouncy pillow, as well as a popular monorail track that circles the perimeter of the playground. There’s also a zip line that runs along one side. There is also an unsheltered sand-based playground with swings, slides, and climbing equipment. A jumping pillow, seesaws, and other bouncing play equipment provide lots of play opportunities for kids of all ages.

The Rockpools water play is a sculptural water playground. The water play area is designed with cool water fountains and vibrant marine-themed equipment. It includes a creek bed and several tidal rock pools for children to splash in and explore.

The playground features a liberty swing for all abilities. There are four electric BBQs near the main playground area, and several covered table areas near the main playground, plus shady trees and umbrellas in random places on the large lawn area closest to the café. There are several toilet blocks throughout the park, including accessible toilets. There’s lots of paid parking, but know it’s well-patrolled by Gold Coast City Council.

All Abilities Playground at Kurrawa Pratten Park

While not a new playground, the Kurrawa playground has play equipment to suit the needs of children of all ages and abilities, there are plenty of opportunities for fun and imagination throughout the three play zones within this playground.

Children can enjoy sand play, flying foxes, swings, including a Liberty Swing, slides, spinners, climbing equipment, and imaginary play while safely contained within the fenced playground. Due to the fenced nature of the park, this is a popular Gold Coast Kids’ party venue.

As a bonus, the playground is located next to the Kurrawa Surf Club and beach, so when the kids (or adults) tire of the playground you can easily transition to beach play.

Playground features: Fully fenced, flying fox, swings, slides, Liberty swing, climbing equipment, sand play, near beach, BBQs and picnic tables nearby, accessible toilets.

Holly Brooke Carter Playground (Bob Huth Park)

Do you have a dinosaur lover in your family? Then Holly Brooke Carter playground is the place to be! Located in Ashmore, the playground caters for a range of ages, with both a big and small playground at Bob Huth Park. The big playground is 3-storeys high and has two slides, and there’s a fun swinging bridge for children to climb across and plenty of high climbing opportunities too. The small playground has steps that toddlers can crawl or climb up without fear of falling off. There is also a small slide to tackle, and a few interactive panels.

Other elements in the playground include the infamous dinosaur, which survived recent renovations to the playground, to climb, a see saw and a dinosaur rocker, swings and a spinning swing too. The playground is mostly covered by shade sails, and the parkland has plenty of open green spaces with shade trees. There are picnic shelters, but no toilets or BBQs.

Emerald Lakes Parklands, Carrara

Check out Emerald Lakes in Carrara! The play structure revolves around a central ramp, making it accessible for everyone! Children can climb, explore, and slide their way through the play area, with additional slides, climbing webs, interactive panels, swings, a spinner, and a see-saw for endless fun.

Safety is a top priority, as the playground is fully fenced with only one entry and exit point. Shade sails and trees offer protection from the sun, ensuring a comfortable play experience. While heavy rains can make the surrounding parklands wet, the elevated design of the playground keeps it dry.

Conveniently located within walking distance to the French Quarter, it’s the perfect spot to play while parents enjoy a cup of coffee. Please note, there are no toilets or picnic facilities. Off street parking available. There is a bike path and walking track around the lake.

Northern Gold Coast

Bim’bimba Park, Pimpama

The Bim’bimba playground is an award-winning park with a large outdoor amphitheatre, toddler play space, playground, teen hangout, and basketball court, which are all connected by a series of entwining paths perfect for bike and scooter riding. There’s also the metal music gong, the animal sculptures, and a spinning wheel. Everything is spread out at this park, with lots of little spaces for different types of play. The park really encourages exploration and the use of imagination.

It’s a climbing-focused park, so better suited to children ages 4+. There is a toddler area separate to the big structures.

The park is partially shaded by shade sails. There are also toilets and baby change facilities, as well as picnic shelters and BBQs on site and onsite parking for 50 cars, otherwise street parking available.

Eagle Tree Park, Coomera Foreshore

Eagle Tree Park at Foreshore Coomera is one of the newest on the Northern Gold Coast. It’s packed with areas for imaginative play and sensory play, as well as more traditional play equipment. It comfortably caters for all ages, and provides a range of experiences for all ability levels.

Based around a central ‘birds nest’ structure, the playground includes a standalone toddler play space, small basketball court and swing set. There are heaps of flat pathways for bike and scooter riding, a picnic shelter with BBQ and a toilet block.

This playground is perfect for those who love to climb! There are platforms to reach, bridges to cross and huge slides to come down again. Little ones are not forgotten, with a space that has a sandpit with hidden shells and diggers and a playhouse with interactive game and music features. There’s also a number of small slides across the park.

The bike paths allow you to link up with the Foreshore Jetty Park, which incorporates a launch pontoon for kayaks and a riverside setting for family get-togethers and barbecues.

On-site there are BBQs, toilets, and a water fountain. The area is accessible for prams, wheelchairs, bikes and scooters.

Parklake Park, Maudsland

The Parklake Park playground is a child’s dream! It has six different playground play spaces and a large park to explore, with a giant brightly-coloured two-level treehouse fort with two slides, several sets of swings including a nest swing, rockers, and see-saws, flying fox, suspended rope bridge, a play car, climbing dome turtle and drums!

There’s also shade sails or large established trees that provide shade over the majority of playground play space, a large sporting field, wide walking paths, one gazebo and several BBQ picnic shelters scattered throughout park, a basketball court, on-site public toilets and an off-street carpark.

Gibirrngaan Park (Black Snake Park), Maudsland

Gibirrngaan Park/Cloverside Park is a unique one! It’s centred around a huge black snake statue. There is play equipment for both young and old with a toddler cubby and slide, as well as a giant rope-climbing tower and enclosed slide for the bigger kids. There’s even a fun sandbox to dig for dinosaur fossils!

There are no toilets or cafes nearby so be prepared. There are several shaded picnic tables for snack breaks.

Lion's Park, Helensvale

Lion’s Park at Helensvale is a huge playground that caters for everyone, especially the climbers, as the only way to the fort is by climbing nets!
The main fort is pirate-themed and features a lookout, a large fort, net bridges, monkey bars, a mega slide, a parkour gym and heaps more!
For toddlers and little ones, there is a smaller playground featuring a mini fort, slide, rocker, see-saw and stepping stones.

Within close proximity are:

  • Barbecues
  • Toilets including a wheelchair-accessible toilet
  • Drinking fountain
  • Picnic shelter
  • Picnic tables

Buckler Park, The Surrounds Helensvale

The Surrounds at Helensvale boasts an innovative playground designed for children to embark on a tactile and sensory journey. It offers numerous play elements, encouraging safe risk-taking and physical and mental challenges. The standout feature for older children is a large, double climbing cube structure, with slides accessible via climbing points and rope nets, ideal for those who love a challenge. Meanwhile, trampolines, a rope swing, and a flying fox provide ample fun for all.

A separate, smaller playground caters to younger children or those less confident in climbing, featuring slides, a ride-on jeep, and a see-saw. Additionally, a sand and water play area promises heaps of messy fun.

Perfect for birthday celebrations, the site includes a large picnic shelter with BBQs, tables, and bench seats, all under shade sails for comfort. To avoid the heat, early morning or late afternoon visits are recommended. Conveniently, a café and toilets are nearby at the community centre, making it an ideal spot for families.

Celadon Park, Helensvale Surrounds

Celadon Park is located in the Helensvale Surrounds estate. This is a great play space for 0-5 year olds with its to the endless opportunities for imaginative play! This playground doesn’t feature any of your traditional play equipment pieces and allows for creative play!

The playground is surrounded by an interactive bike track designed to help kids of all ages learn how to ride a bike. Incorporating traffic signs, a petrol station for refueling, a fire station for imaginative play and a small pump track component for the children looking for a challenge, do not forget to bring the bikes or scooters on this visit!

The playground is shade-sail covered, but the bike track is not. Note there aren’t toilet facilities or BBQs. Picnic tables, rubbish bins and a water fountain are available.

Country Paradise Parklands, Nerang

The centrepiece of the adventure playground at the Country Paradise Parklands is the 11.5m windmill with mega slide, accessed via a water-tank tunnel and swing bridge. Wrapping around the entire playground space is a creek bed with water play elements. There are toddler and primary schooler play spaces, as well as the central playground for everyone to enjoy. The water play area features water pumps, troughs and ramps, encouraging the kids to build natural channels for the water to flow.

This area includes BBQs, toilets including accessible ones, a drinking fountain, picnic shelter and picnic tables.

Just beware, we’ve heard magpies can get nasty during mating season.

The Backyard, Coomera Westfield

An unexpected gem at a shopping centre! The Backyard at Coomera Westfield offers a lot for children of all ages!

There’s an age one – four years play zone: a ‘fallen log’ immersive sensory zone entertaining children with tactile, auditory and visual experiences. The fallen log includes cubby and hiding spaces, sound tubes, a playful tunnel experience and slippery slide.

Then there’s an ages four – eight years play zone: a fun-filled obstacle course providing imaginative and adventure play. The space includes numerous balance and climbing experiences, trampolines, swings and a spiral slide.

The real highlight of The Backyard, particularly on hot summer days, is the water play area, which features ankle to knee-deep water, children can pump the water pumps, dodge squirting frogs, spin water wheels and explore the winding streams of water. The Backyard features big shade sails and grassy banks, and has deck chairs for the adults. There are change rooms are right beside the water area, plus toilets and BBQs. The Backyard is also conveniently located right next to the shopping centre’s fresh food Marketplace!

Green Grove Park, Pimpama

Green Grove Park in Gainsborough Greens (Pimpama) isn’t the biggest playground in the area, but the playground’s interpretive and educational play experience is why it received an Award of Excellence – Play Spaces at the 2019 Queensland Landscape Architecture Awards in recognition of the playground’s elements of exploration, discovery, role play, balance, climbing, storytelling, exhilaration, and social interaction.

Children will enjoy this award-winning adventure playground with its eight-metre-high hill slide, timber log play forts, sandstone block stair climb, and sand play at the base. The playground also includes a reclaimed fallen tree for climbing over as well as big sandstone boulders and climbing structures. The area is connected by pathways and dry creek beds.

Note, there are no toilet or BBQ facilities available.

Aquila Park, Pimpama

Aquila Park’s playground is a haven of fun, featuring a fantastic water play area with dynamic spouts and pumps, an impressive slide tower, a spinner, and various climbing and balancing equipment. Designed to keep children engaged for hours, the playground is divided into four zones, each offering activities suited to different ages and skill levels. The layout ensures all areas are visible from the surrounding seating, making it a hit with parents too.

Zone 1 offers a gentle introduction with a swing set, a small cubby house, rope balance beams, and a see-saw.

Zone 2 is a paradise for sand play enthusiasts, equipped with diggers, water play tunnels, spouts, pumps, and troughs.

Zone 3 focuses on climbing, featuring a small structure with a slide, mushrooms for hopping, colourful boulders for climbing, and a four-seater spinner.

Zone 4 boasts the slide tower, standing 9m tall with two slides catering to different confidence levels, mesh panels for peeking through at the top, and a side rock climbing wall.

Additional features include a small bike path around the playground, perfect for scooters or bike learners, and a dry creek bed for exploration. With a toilet block, BBQ, and picnic tables on site, Aquila Park promises a fun outing for families.

Hilltop Park, Ormeau

An oldie but a goodie! Hilltop Park is split into two sections, you’ll find a shady toddler play area with a car, climbing frame and mini playground with slide and swing in one area.

The main playground space is better suited for bigger children, with a larger playground and slide, large climbing net, balance beams, spinners and a swing set. Little ones can also climb the ramp up to the old water tower, which has been converted into a play structure.

Toilets, a BBQ , water bubbler and picnic shelter are right beside the playground, with additional shady seating all through the park.

Redlands

Thornlands Community Park, Thornlands

Thornlands Community Park is a nature-themed playground that includes multiple nature-inspired installments. Children will be able to spot plenty of fun larger-than-life vegetables scattered around the playground too!

The park features a ‘dinosaur dig’ area where kids can uncover a large dinosaur fossil buried in a sandy pit, with excavation tools included. Alongside this is a large sandpit with diggers and the area is rimmed with large stone and wood stepping stones.

you will find a huge, three-towered climbing structure which features two giant enclosed slides, climbing nets, enclosed netted walkways and even a pirate ship crows nest.

It has large climbing mounds covered in soft matting and a delightful little farmers market cottage with slide. It has a slide, outdoor dining area and a couple of little spots to set up in.

The playground also features a two-person flying fox, ninja warrior-like climbing course, swings and includes sensory and all-abilities play too!

The park features accessible toilets, is partially shaded by shade sails, BBQs, picnic shelters with tables and benches.

Jingeri Park, Shoreline, Redland Bay

The Jingeri Park playground has been designed with climbing and sliding in mind with several options offered to scale the elevated playgrounds with two slides to come back down!
The playground at Jingeri Park was created in partnership with the traditional owners of the land. The structures within the playground have been designed to embody the local landmarks, including an 8.5m lighthouse and a jetty.
The park also has a picnic area and shaded areas to enjoy some lunch or a coffee whilst the children play.
Jingeri Park also showcases native flora, including three fig trees being relocated from the Shoreline site, chosen for their ties to First Nations culture and local plant species.

Mount Cotton Community Park, Redlands

Mount Cotton Community Park has a wonderful mix of slides, tunnels, monkey bars, balance beams, and a challenging climbing web. The main play structure has several ideal look-out posts and a bridge that invokes fantasy games of houses and ships. There’s a great toddler section too, with its own mini fort featuring low-set stairs and slides, plus musical instruments, a sand activity table, and a large plastic igloo. Both playgrounds are covered by a shade sail and surrounded by sand.

Other features include a flying fox, a basketball court, skate park, off-leash dog area and lots of green space. The parkland also has wheelchair-accessible toilets, electric BBQs, covered picnic tables, and a network of wide concrete paths.

Capalaba Regional Park, Capalaba

Capalaba Regional Park is a great all abilities playground, with a giant terraced playground for children of all ages, in which they can clamber, swing, wander, wheel, and interact with sensory installations. The climbing webs, a fortress, flying fox, built-in slides, a sandpit, and totem pole maze are supported by sensory equipment such as steel drums and an audio spinning wheel.

The playground is overlooked by BBQ and picnic pavilions and with wheelchair-accessible paths winding throughout. There’s also covered areas and accessible toilets nearby.

The park also boasts a spacious dog off-leash area, lily ponds, and a number of paths for walking or cycling.

O'Gorman Street Park, Alexandra Hills

O’Gorman Street Park received a high commendation in the recent Queensland Parks and Leisure Conference Awards of Excellence for its ‘outstanding and innovative upgrade’ just a few years ago.

The park offers swings for babies and children, musical play, a basketball court, slides, climbing ropes, and plenty of things to climb and jump over.

The accessible park also has drinking fountains, BBQs, public toilets and plenty of shade and picnic shelters.

Our Top Logan Playgrounds

Logan Village Green playground

This fantastic playground features a birds’ nest lookout, slides, trampolines, a flying fox, totem poles with ropes, a dry creek bed, and a range of swings for all ages and abilities.🌲

The highlight for us is the mega slide, with a fun and impressive climb up to the top via logs and net tunnels and through several platforms, including some that resemble a birdhouse and a birds nest. There’s also a mini slide off the bottom platform.

It also has a balancing obstacle section including natural stumps, logs and ropes to test the balance of visitors. The shaded soft play section has multiple swings for visitors of different abilities.

There are three inground trampoline pads and a ground-level round-about that is fun for all visitors and accessible for people in wheelchairs.

The area also includes covered picnic tables, park benches and sandstone blocks for seating, barbecues, accessible toilets, skate park nearby (across the oval) and wide cement paths.

Eridani Park, Logan

Located in Logan is Eridani Park! This park and playground have just had an exciting new upgrade, featuring a brand new nature play area!

This recreational space features a wide, rocky creek bed with water pumps! There are multiple opportunities for crossing the creek bed, including bridges, logs and sandstone structures. This new space is perfect for children of all ages to enhance gross motor skills and coordination.
New additions to the playground include a spinning carousel, a new set of swings including a nest swing and a flying fox!

There’s also accessible toilets, a BBQ area, basketball court and a picnic area.

Bellubera Park, Yarrabilba

 Billubera Park boasts over 5.6 hectares of parkland, the park features two multi-level play towers, a 10-metre elevated ‘maze bridge’ walkway and a 4.5-metre tube slide! 

This playground also features a ninja warrior course for those little risk-takers, as well as a basketball court, nature play areas and two large ovals. This park also has toilet facilities and plenty of seating.

In the Yugambeh language billubera means ‘a clear sky or fine day’  this name was chosen as it represents the prospect of having clear, fine and sunny days at this family orientated parkland.  The language connects the site back to country and shares culture with the wider community. 

Alexander Clark Park, Loganholme

Alexander Clark Park at Loganholme is brand new and full of fun activities for the family to enjoy! With its unique Australian animal theme and water play area, it’s the perfect spot for a weekend adventure!

The main playground features a large koala structure, providing climbing opportunities and a thrilling slide. The park also includes a bike path with two small pump tracks, a flying fox, swings, trampolines, a small slide, and a digger for added fun.

One standout feature is the engaging water play area! Children can enjoy a gentle spray of water from misters, water pumps, and a network of channels to direct water flow.

Additional amenities include toilets, shade sails, and picnic tables, making it a well-equipped destination for family outings.

Flagstone Adventure Park, Jimboomba

Located within the expansive 10-hectare Flagstone Regional Park, this adventure playground stands as one of the largest in South East Queensland, promising endless fun for children of all ages. The playground thoughtfully includes a dedicated toddler zone for younger children and those preferring to stay closer to the ground. This area boasts a low-level fort equipped with miniature firemen’s poles, tiny ladders, and slides of various heights. Little explorers can also navigate a caterpillar-themed climbing web or venture through a long tunnel that’s nestled into the ground.

For those bursting with energy, the playground offers a competition-standard skate plaza and a concrete half basketball court. There’s also a multi-purpose grass field outfitted with basketball hoops and soccer goalposts for sports enthusiasts.

The central playground section is well-shaded by sails and encircled by sandstone blocks, creating a comfortable spot for carers to relax while the children enjoy prolonged play sessions. Additional attractions within the playground include in-ground trampolines, bouncers, bike paths, merry-go-rounds, twin flying foxes, and eight swings. This selection features two all-abilities net swings and two swings for infants, ensuring enjoyment for all.

Right next to the Flagstone Adventure Park lies the equally impressive Flagstone Water Park, complete with a café for those looking to grab a coffee. There are public toilets, but no BBQs, and off-street parking.

Our Top Brisbane Playgrounds

City Botanic Gardens, Brisbane

A visit to the Botanical Gardens is a must when you’re in Brisbane, but have you been to the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens playground? This play space has been designed to host a range of sensory play, musical activities, imaginative and physical play.

There are climbing objects for little ones and tall musical chimes that can have two kids at any one time playing a melody. A circle of ten speaker tubes has been set up for children to listen and speak through, and to encourage social interaction. There’s also spinning hand objects, clear shapes to look through, and a sand play area with little diggers to sit and dig in the sand. This Brisbane playground features all the standard equipment, including multiple one and two-person see-saws and spinning seats, a four swing set, including one baby swing and one for all abilities.

Located nearby are public toilets, it is partially shaded but not fenced.

Kalinga Park Playground, Clayfield

Kalinga Park Playground offers some fun timber forts, resembling trees houses, which are adorned with many opportunities to climb – nets, poles, bars, ladders, steps and a climbing wall. This Brisbane playground is suitable for children of all ages, with a separate structure, slide and swings designed for the younger children.

There’s a mini traffic track, adjacent to the playground, can be utilised to develop road safety awareness and riding skills.

The park also offers accessible toilet facilities, electric BBQs, picnic tables both sheltered and unsheltered, water fountains, walking and cycle paths and a fenced, off-leash dog area. Note the playground is not fenced.

Lower Moora Park, Shorncliffe

The Lower Moora Park seaside playground offers fantastic forts, slides and wooden carvings. Confident climbers will enjoy exploring the many levels of the playground

There is also a separate fort perfect for toddlers, which includes a slide and a place to express themselves musically via the instruments. Toddlers can also amuse themselves under the main playground in the play area underneath the fort or get busy in the sand area, where there is plenty of space for digging. They can also play on the colourful animal structures and spring rockers.

Note this park is near water and unfenced, but does offer shade sails and large trees, a variety of seating options surrounding the playground, water fountain, shaded picnic tables, BBQs, and accessible toilets.

Bray Farm Park, Griffin

Commonly known as the ‘Harry Potter’ park in Griffin, north of Brisbane, this destination blends art, culture, nature, and fun for the entire family.

Discover two whimsical ‘cottage style’ play structures, a climbing sphere, slides, swings, and charming bridges. With a magical forest backdrop, plenty of park benches, winding paths, and a large grassy area for games, this park is sure to be a fun day out for all!

Parents take note, there aren’t toilets, the park isn’t fenced and it’s close to a road, so keep an eye on your youngsters while they play!

Hidden World Playground, Fitzgibbon

Hidden World Playground is a wonderful north Brisbane playground with a series of interconnected rainbow-coloured ‘houses’ built on sand and is ideally suited to toddlers and preschoolers. Besides clambering through the houses, there are plenty of other fun activities including the sandpits surrounding, as well as an in-ground lawn maze.

Hidden World has a whole back story that you can find here!

The playground is not fenced, but it’s not close to the road. It offers accessible toilets including a baby change table
There are no shade sails over play equipment, but in the general area there are. There are water fountains, four shaded picnic areas and electric BBQs.

Rocks Riverside Park, Seventeen Mile Rocks

The popular Rocks Riverside Park offers a whole day of fun for families!

There are two playgrounds, each aimed at differing age groups. There is a giant fort aimed at bigger kids, with so many climbing and exploring options. The fort is mostly covered, so lots of shade, with additional shade sails nearby. There is also a flying fox, giant climbing net, swings, bike paths, exploration paths, and even a half basketball court. The playground for younger children is fully fenced with two smaller forts: a toddler fort and one for those slightly bigger kids. There’s also a sandpit is also within the fenced area, with a sand table and push-button water tap to help with the sand creations. Toddler swings, bouncers, and safari car seat all add to the fun to be had here.

This Brisbane playground also makes for a great summer stop, with a water play and splash zone. Children can play in the shallow water, run in and out of the fountains, relax in the man-made rock pools and more. There are multiple shade sails covering most of the water play area.

There are accessible toilet facilities, a soft-fall ground cover, BBQ and covered picnic areas.

Thrush Street Park, Inala

Thrush Street Park in Inala is a great suburban oasis that’s a must-visit for families in Brisbane! This park is fun for children of all ages, boasting an array of playful attractions. A standout feature is the misting forest, complete with interactive water sprayers, which is a crowd-pleaser during the warmer seasons.

Despite its compact size, Thrush Street Park’s playground is densely packed with engaging elements. Notable attractions include a sizable climbing structure with two thrilling slides, an extended flying fox, swings, and a merry-go-round, ensuring endless entertainment for little visitors.

The playground also houses an exciting water play area, highlighted by a hand-operated water pump that feeds into a creek leading towards the misting forest. Here, towering tree-like structures equipped with buttons unleash a refreshing shower from their branches, offering a delightful escape from the heat. It’s a good idea to bring along a change of clothes, swimwear, and towels, especially on hot days, to fully enjoy the water features. However, it’s important to note the absence of public toilets at the park, so plan your visit accordingly.

Accessibility is thoughtfully considered at Thrush Street Park. The merry-go-round is flush with the surrounding soft fall area, facilitating access for visitors with wheelchairs and other mobility devices. Additionally, interactive panels and musical features are conveniently located on this accessible surface. Wide concrete pathways meander through the playground, with one leading directly to the water play area and misting forest, both set over a sturdy concrete base.

Parking is available in an off-street lot with a gravel surface, but be prepared for a brief walk over uneven grass to reach the playground from the car park. Thrush Street Park is indeed packed with features that cater to a wide range of interests and needs, making it a fantastic destination for a family day out.

Colmslie Beach Reserve, Murarrie

Colmslie Beach Reserve, nestled along the Brisbane River, offers everything for a perfect day out. With attractions including flying foxes, slides, climbable large sculptures of sea creatures, interactive water play, and scenic picnic areas, plus a new scooter/bike track, it’s a haven for families.

This park is a paradise for children, featuring a playground with unique sculptures like a fish, octopus, crab, and submarine, designed to enhance gross motor skills. Interactive buttons activate water features for extra fun. The playground also offers a variety of activities including a dry creek bed for imaginative play, a balancing bridge, slides, a musical boat, and a flying fox.

The reserve is well-equipped for picnics and outdoor activities, with ample seating, connected pathways, and abundant shade. A highlight is the scooter/bike track complete with a maintenance pit stop, making it feel like a real road adventure with its speed bumps and road signs.

Accessible toilets are conveniently located within the playground area, which is semi-fenced for safety. The larger park area is open, inviting visitors to explore the boardwalk for stunning views of the Gateway Bridge and the Brisbane River.

Colmslie Beach Reserve encourages imaginative play, whether pretending to be a sea captain or a pirate. The playground’s design and facilities, including a partially fenced play area, accessible toilets, shaded play equipment, and ample green spaces, make it an ideal spot for family outings.

Wynnum Whale Park, Whynnum

Wynnum Whale Park is a hit with young families, featuring a unique whale pod water spray area on soft rubber matting to prevent slips. Children love climbing and jumping off water-spouting whale sculptures, with intermittent water bursts adding to the excitement. The area includes a large tipping bucket and a smaller water feature for younger children, ideal for leaf races along miniature streams.

Adjacent to this water play zone is a spacious nautical-themed playground, offering climbing structures, slides, swings, and imaginative play areas like a shop and boat. Situated near Wynnum Jetty and Pandanus Beach, it’s perfect for a calm beach day. The area also boasts bike paths and walkways along the waterfront, ideal for a family ride or stroll. Nearby fish and chip cafes provide convenient dining options.

There’s also the Wynnum Wading Pool nearby. The oceanic theme encourages imaginative play, with children pretending to be sea captains or pirates, while the anticipation of which whale will spray water next adds to the fun.

The park is accessible, with wheelchair-friendly toilets and shaded areas for setting up a day camp. Unsheltered water park sections, small gazebos, picnic tables, and well-maintained BBQs make it comfortable for families. Shops and cafes are easily reachable for refreshments, with convenient parking and public transport options nearby.

Wynnum Whale Park’s features include an unfenced playground with sand and rubber surfaces, accessible toilets, a wading pool, seasonal water play, ocean-themed play structures, climbing nets, slides, swings, and bike and walking paths. Sheltered picnic spots, BBQs, and the sight of soldier crabs at low tide enrich the visit.

Riverside Green Playground, Southbank

A visit to the Southbank isn’t complete (at least for children) without a stop to the Riverside Green Playground!

The two-level playground has an adventure zone up top, and the lower level features interactive equipment. The 7.5 metre high structure has sky cabin towers interconnected by a series of rope bridges and connecting slides.

For the smaller ones, there’s a dedicated toddler area on the upper terrace level with an all-inclusive area pirate ship-themed toddler zone with undercover areas, grasp holes, climbing ladders and ropes, slides, compass, binoculars, and interactive elements to touch and turn.

This park space also features climbing nets, slides, swings, and a giant hamster wheel!

The area, not enclosed, also features accessible toilets, including baby change table, shade sails, picnic tables, electric BBQs and water fountains.

Bradbury Park, Kedron

Check out the new and improved Bradbury Park, which received a $10m upgrade in 2023! There are comments about this park that it’s really like a ‘mini theme park’ and we can definitely see why!

It encourages adventure play with challenging towers and bridges to navigate and incorporates inspired nature play. It’s also great for keen climbers, as every surface at Bradbury Park has footholds and handgrips encouraging climbing. This playground is tailored more for children ages five and older, however, the little ones still might enjoy it with the help of a grown-up or an older sibling! Toddlers aren’t forgotten though, underneath there is a section just for little ones to explore, with a mini cliff climber and wide slide at the top of a soft fall mount.

Parents, just be warned due to its design, it might be hard to spot your child in the structure, and there is a certain amount of risk involved when playing at Bradbury Park.

The area includes picnic spots, BBQs, toilets, an impressive scooter track that includes several challenging obstacles. You’ll also find a basketball half-court and a fully fenced dog park.
The park is now equipped with all the other amenities that will keep families comfortable and entertained for hours on end. 🎉

Buxton Park, Yarrabilba

Buxton Park truly offers something for everyone! For children, there’s an 8.7-metre high tower featuring two enclosed slides set either side of an elaborate climbing web. The most unique feature is the large synthetic grass caterpillar which snakes its way around the playground precinct. Children will adore scaling the rises before rolling, running or jumping into the dips. There’s also in-ground trampolines, swings for all ages and abilities, horse bouncers and spinning poles round out the play equipment aimed at children. Grownups haven’t been left out of the design either! There’s an innovative outdoor gym featuring magnetic bells for strength training, a core twist, a bicycle, and more. The equipment even has an integrated training app to help you get the most out of a workout.

There are BBQs and a picnic area, but no public toilets.

New Farm Park Playground

Have you visited New Farm Park Playground? This enchanted forest playground in Brisbane, nestled in amongst Moreton Bay Fig trees, consists of an impressive fort-like tree-house with an expansive bridge walk that winds and promotes all kinds of imaginative play. It boasts:

  • climbing walls
  • meandering pathways
  • wobbly walkways
  • chain link bridges
  • swaying poles to
  • clamber across
  • slippery slides.

There’s also a separate playground for the littlest ones, as well as accessible play equipment. This outdoor gem is just a few minutes’ walk from the New Farm Park ferry terminal and the Powerhouse Museum. Onsite are accessible toilets, BBQs, walking and bike paths, water fountains, an onsite cafe for coffee and plenty of cafes nearby and free parking.

There you have it! We hope you enjoyed our list of the best playgrounds on the Gold Coast and in Redlands and Brisbane City. If you’re after the best childcare in the Gold Coast and Brisbane areas, look no further than Little Scholars, we’re sure to have a centre near you. Contact us or book a tour today to ensure your little one gets the best start to life that they can.

Do you have a playground you think should be here? Let us know on our socials @littlescholarsearlylearning!
*Images courtesy of Gold Coast, Redlands and Brisbane city councils, mrslardeedah.com, romethegnome.com, and kidsonthecoast.com.

As parents and as educators, it’s our job to keep children safe.  For children, it’s their job to explore, push limits, move their bodies, and happily tune out what they don’t want to hear.

So when a child is engaging in risky play – which is so important in a child’s development as it furthers their frustration tolerance, critical thinking skills, self-confidence, resilience and so much more – it can also put the watching adult into panic mode, often triggering the phrase ‘be careful!’

But, if that adult expects the child to immediately stop what they’re doing after uttering (or shouting) those two words, they probably have another reality coming. ‘Be careful’ isn’t terribly effective because it’s vague and lacks specificity for a toddler. Saying it on repeat will likely lose any small amount of effectiveness it did carry because, well, being told to be careful isn’t any fun. Or worse, hearing that phrase could create fear and dim a child’s curiosity and sense of adventure.

Riskyplay1

What's the intention?

As adults, we also need to think about what we mean when we say ‘be careful’.  Do we want the child to stop what they’re doing? Do something differently? Slow down? Do we think they will get hurt? Every situation is different, but it’s worth thinking about the intention behind the phrase. Is it possible the child could get seriously hurt? Is what the child is doing put another child at risk? Is there something valuable that you don’t want damaged?

Perhaps rather than ‘be careful’ you say:

  • ‘Looks fun, just watch out for your little sister!’

  • ‘Do you hear the cars? The road is close by.’

  • ‘Before you throw that stick, just watch for the window over there.’

  • ‘Do you feel safe?’

  • ‘I’m here if you need me.’

  • ‘Maybe just slow your body down a little bit.’

  • ‘Focus on where your feet are.’

  • ‘Using two hands might help you hold on tighter.’

  • ‘What’s your plan for coming back down?’

Even just asking ‘does your body feel safe?’ may give your little one a second to pause and think about what they’re doing, and perhaps change course if needed.

For adults, when they observe children participating in risky play, if they approach it with curiosity and give specific feedback that focuses on creating awareness and problem-solving skills, it helps your toddler becomes more confident in their skills, abilities, problem-solving and learning.

Riskyplay3

Encouraging risky play

Risky play is something to be encouraged. Something happened between the time when many parents of small children were little ones themselves, to now. We may remember our parents letting us go play unsupervised, as long as we were back before dark. That play may be some of your best childhood memories. Society has become more risk-adverse in recent decades, from parents worries about kidnapping and injury, to the fear of judgement from others thinking they’re bad caregivers can drive many parents to intervene before their child can engage in risk during play. But those fears could actually be hurting children’s development by hovering over them constantly. Research shows that engaging in risky play can actually reduce the risk of injury, too. Something parents and educators can do is teach young children to risk-assess.

For example, rather than worrying about if your child is going to get a sharp bindi seed in his or her foot from running across grass barefoot, involve your child in the risk assessment. In this case, point out what a bindi weed looks like, and encourage your child to look for the weeds with shoes on before deciding if it’s a good idea to take shoes off. By assessing ‘risk’ situations together, your child will learn increased ability to hypothesize, predict, experiment and investigate, and your child will feel you trust their ability to make safe decisions. it’s all about balancing the risk with the benefits. Imagine if your child was running barefoot in the grass and you spotted bindis and yelled ‘Be careful!’ your child could be bewildered by your cry, ignore your yelling and keep going, or could possibly stop, landing perfectly on the sharp weed you want him or her to avoid.

Riskyplay2

At Little Scholars, risk assessment is a part of our programming, such as bush/bush kindy or loose parts play, where children have the opportunity to guide and direct their own learning tying in with activities that are child-led and learning is a process of discovery. Sites are pre-risk assessed by educators, and children are involved in the risk management process, guided to look out for themselves and have a group discussion about it before play.

“It’s all about setting boundaries with the children and asking them about what risks they think may be involved before they go ahead,” says Melanie, operations manager for Little Scholars. “We wouldn’t use ‘risk’ with little ones, so it may look like ‘how can we be safe when we play in this area?'”

“Play is a powerful behaviour that is often a missed agenda for many early childhood professionals. Extrinsic agenda will often lead to children being told what they should experience, as opposed to living the experience, says Susan, Little Scholars’ pedagogical leader and practice manager.

Susan highlights Lev Vygotsky’s theory of play as a lived experience.

“Too often, adults feel the need to apply an adult agenda, often with good intention, however this often has the potential to limit the actual multifarious nature of what we call play.

“As adults, we need to trust in the play process and accept that children will create situations in which they can act out emotions in ways they feel they can. When given the freedom to do so, children will demonstrate ability for exploration, imagination, and decision-making.”

Related:

Whether your child is starting childcare for the first time or joining us at Little Scholars, change can be intimidating for both the child and parents!

We hope you’ve taken advantage of our playdates so that the centre your child is joining isn’t brand new to him or her. The purpose of our playdates is to familiarise your child (and you!) with their new educators, peers and surroundings, and help our educators get to know your child.

Let your educator know about any settling techniques or routines your child is used to for sleep, as well as your expectations and discipline.

In the days leading up to joining us

We recommend you talk with your child about what will happen at the centre in the days leading up to their start. Remind them about their playdates, such as if you remember educators or peers’ names, or one part of the daycare they may remember (our playgrounds are always a hit!).

Get their help in packing their daycare bag. Keeping your child an active participant in getting ready our campus helps them get used to the idea. Especially if there’s a special toy or blanket in there for them, they’ll be comforted knowing it’s there if they need it.

First day

Try to keep goodbyes short. Be calm. Of course, respond to your child’s distress and comfort them, but be firm and reassure them you’ll be coming back.

Spend extra time with them to reconnect when you return and ask them about their day. This is also an opportunity to ask your educator for some useful questions that can help encourage your child to open up about their day’s experience.

Packing your child’s bag:
  • A sun-safe hat that protects your child’s face, neck and ears. A Little Scholar sun-safe hat will be given to your child when they enrol, you can include this or an alternative hat each day
  • Drink bottle
  • Sleeping sheet set or blanket and a pillow for nap time. We do not allow pillows in cots per safe sleeping recommendations
  • Change of clothes as our play can get messy, and underwear (especially if a child is toilet-training or three years and up). Always make sure appropriate clothing is packed depending on weather/season. As children are outside every day and participate in Forest School each week, we recommend longer-sleeved t-shirts and pants that protects little bodies from the sun, as well as closed-toe shoes with good grips
  • Bib or two if needed
  • Sunscreen is applied at our centres, but you are welcome to bring an alternative if your child is sensitive skin or is allergic
  • Mosquito repellent if you wish
  • A comfort item such as a toy or blanket
  • Dummy (if required) in a sealed, named container. Sterilised bottles with pre-boiled water and formula in a tin or in formula dividers
  • Wet bag – we play in rain and sprinklers, so something to contain wet items
  • Feel free to bring in photos of your family that we can display around our centre, so when your child is engaged in learning they know you’re always there. You can also bring in cultural pieces that represent your family – we love having a piece of your home in ours.

Don’t forget, we’re here for you too, parents! If you have any questions about how your child is settling in, please don’t hesitate to call your campus or have a conversation with your lead educator at any time.

More information

Is your child transitioning studios at one of our Little Scholars campuses? Check out this blog post with tips to help make a smooth transition.
For more information on how to settle your Little Scholar in, check out this article.

Have you heard the term ‘frustration tolerance’ before? If you have a small child or work with them, you certainly know all about children struggling with frustrating emotions. Frustration tolerance is the ability to work through a problem, breathe, and figure out a solution.

You see your child trying out a task and not be able to get it to work the way they want to. They get frustrated and ask for help. You oblige because you just hate to see them mad at themselves.

When you see a baby getting frustrated and crying, you want to jump to her rescue and give her that item she’s trying to reach for. When your toddler is working to solve a puzzle, we want the child to get it done and get it done right on the first go. If not, we jump in to fix it for them.

But what is the underlying message we are giving the child every time we do a task for them?

‘I can do it for you, faster than you can, more efficiently than you can.’

How do they learn to do something on their own if they always have help? How do they have a sense of accomplishment if they never go through the trial-and-error process while learning to do something.

The next time the child struggles with something, they’ll just get you to do it for them. That frustration tolerance will dissipate, and they won’t struggle to get to an answer. They will look for instant gratification, instant solutions and that doesn’t come easily and quickly, they won’t mind quitting.

How does that baby learn to move her body to get that item closer to her if you’ll just pass it to her? How does always doing something for your toddler help him when he gets to school and there are several children who need the educator’s attention?

So much in society is already done for us thanks to technology. We don’t need to know basic math because our devices have calculators, or we can just ask the question in the search bar. We don’t need spatial awareness or how to read maps, because Google and Apple have taken away that need. But for your children, where there’s an opportunity to learn frustration tolerance, we should give it to them.

Patience and persistence are two components we all need to deal with frustration, and a certain amount of both will help your child stick with a problem or challenge to find a solution.

At our Stapylton campus, educator Holly Medbury teaches Senior Kindy, where there’s a lot of focus on independence, self-help skills, regulating and becoming aware of emotions, and providing risky and challenging experiences for the children to enable critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

There’s a yard at Stapylton called ‘The Natural Yard’ which has a cubby house, two large tunnels, and a musical xylophone wall. It’s mostly just surrounded by beautiful nature, just for a change where they can explore their imagination.

Frustration Tolerance

“With the two tunnels we encourage two children at a time to climb up the tunnel and sit up the top, which is a big achievement,” Holly says. “This is a challenging/risky play task that we enforce and provide lots of praise, encouragement, strategies if they are struggling to climb up.

Here are some of Holly’s encouraging words she provides with experiences like this:

“You are doing so well! I can see it looks quite tricky, how else do you think you can get up there?”

“Have a look around you and see if there is anything that can help you.”

“You’re doing your best and I’m so proud of you! Maybe you could use your knees going up the tunnel, as I can see there is room for your knees which might make it easier?”

By teaching our children that we can try again and that it’s okay to not get it right away takes some modelling from a parent and educator perspective. By adults modelling frustration in tasks and trying again in front of our children, by saying, “Oh no! It’s not working for me. Let me try again,’ normalises frustration tolerance and tells them that they can try again too. Children with greater frustration tolerance have been shown to grow up to be happier and more successful.

Frustrationtolerance2

So how do we teach children to be more patient and persistent when it comes to tasks?

Learning patience

  • Help children learn to wait. While they wait, talk to them about what you are doing. For example, you might say, “I’m heating up your lunch right now. Do you know the sound you’ll hear when it’s ready? Beep!
  • Sit on your hands. Literally, if need be! Resist the urge to physically help them complete the task and talk them through it helps your child cope with frustration. When they fall apart, let them know that you appreciate how difficult it can be. “Puzzles are hard! Are you feeling mad that the puzzle piece won’t fit in the space?” This helps your child verbalise feelings and acknowledges you understand they’re frustrated. Talk with them and help them think through solutions without doing the work for them. Suggest or demonstrate strategies for solving whatever problem they are facing. One good idea is to break the challenge into manageable parts: “Why don’t you put your arm in the sleeve first? Then we will work together to get the rest of your shirt on.”
  • Throw in some humour. This can reduce the tension your child feels. For example, you get cross at the block tower that has fallen: “You naughty tower! You’re supposed to stay up! Well, we’re not giving up!”

It’s never too late to encourage your child to try more, do more for themselves, which in turn builds their self-confidence, trust in their own abilities, and sense of self-efficacy.

Logo
Come and see the Little Scholars difference

Let us hold your hand and help looking for a child care centre. Leave your details with us and we’ll be in contact to arrange a time for a ‘Campus Tour’ and we will answer any questions you might have!

Come and see the Little Scholars difference

Let us hold your hand and help looking for a child care centre. Leave your details with us and we’ll be in contact to arrange a time for a ‘Campus Tour’ and we will answer any questions you might have!