At Tinkergarten, each explorer (child) is accompanied by a guide (parent or caregiver). Although guides work hard to give children all of the space they need to drive their own play, guides are also there to help remind explorers to play in a way that keeps them and other friends at Tinkergarten feeling safe. Leaders support guides in this work and do all that they reasonably can to provide a learning environment that allows for safe risk-taking. A few, simple rules help us address most situations:
- Explorers (children) can explore on their own as long as they can still see or hear their guide or the Leader.
- If explorers are taking physical risks, we check in to make sure that they feel sturdy and safe in their risk-taking.
- Leaders encourage children to engage in risky play, but give clear re-direction if or when safety and the safety of friends in the class could be compromised. For example, we celebrate that sticks are the #1 toy of all time, but we make sure that our sticks have plenty of space so they do not touch our friends' bodies. Ultimately, over time, we want to help children learn how to learn their limits while still playing in a way that keeps them and their friends out of true harm.
- We encourage children not to put nature treasures in their mouths. If a wee one is doing so as a natural part of exploring the world, we work with their guide to try to honor that need in the safest way possible.
Leaders are provided with extensive suggestions about how to manage common risks associated with play in public green spaces and bring a First Aid Kit to class, which can be utilized by guides (attending adults) if needed.
Leaders also partner with guides to make sure that explorers feel safe at Tinkergarten. Our New Leader Course, required in order for leaders to be certified to lead, includes a module addressing both physical and emotional safety. We learn that the Leader’s job, in partnership with guides, is to support all children as they learn about how their behavior impacts and is impacted by others. You can read about how we think about social development in the early years in a post on our blog, More than Mudpies.