Nurseries Slow Down Children’s Physical Development by Prohibiting Risky Activities

Category: Education/Family


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. play safe / pleɪ seɪf / (idiom) – to act in a manner that avoids risks

    Some schools are playing safe by sticking to traditional practices.

  2. dexterity / dɛkˈsterəti / (n) – the ability to do something well using the hands

    Many children lack the dexterity to play the guitar.

  3. boundary / ˈbaʊndəri / (n) – a limitation of an activity

    Schools should teach children how to understand boundaries, such as respecting others’ privacy.

  4. out of harm’s way / aʊt əv hɑɚms weɪ / (idiom) – in a situation that is safe

    During the field trip, the teacher constantly watched the children to keep them out of harm’s way.

  5. compromise / ˈkɑːmprəˌmaɪz / (v) – to weaken something

    Parents are compromising their children’s emotional development by being overprotective.


Read the text below.

Nurseries in the United Kingdom are hindering children’s physical development by playing safe.

The United Kingdom’s Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) noted that nurseries have taken measures to stop children from doing risky activities.  In fact, some have prohibited children from engaging in playground activities, while others have banned field trips.

Ofsted warned that such prohibitions can have a negative impact on children’s physical development. For one, stopping children from doing physical activities weakens their dexterity and muscular strength. Aside from physical development, children’s ability to understand rules and boundaries is also affected.

Ofsted Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman explained that nurseries are creating a risk-free environment for children to ensure compliance with health and safety rules. Parents are also putting a lot of pressure on nurseries to keep children out of harm’s way at all times.

Pre-school Learning Alliance’s quality and standards manager, Melanie Pilcher, advised nurseries and parents to learn how to manage risk. If both parties can learn risk management, children will have more freedom to do risky activities and their physical development will not be compromised.

Bright Horizons Family Solutions, an early education provider in several countries, has taken action to ensure children’s physical development while teaching risk management in its over 200 nurseries. The institution has health and safety mascots that teach students how to avoid getting hurt while doing physical activities at school and at home. The mascots, called Candy Floss, guides students in making safe choices, assessing different kinds of risks, and taking control of their own safety.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you agree that prohibiting children from doing risky activities (e.g. engaging in playground activities, going on field trips) compromises their physical development? Why or why not?
• How do you think nurseries can ensure compliance with health and safety rules while letting children become physically active?

Discussion B

• Why is it important to let children take risks?
• What do you think are some activities that allow children to take risks?