This week in my child development class we had a big unit on safety and risk. One of the most interesting things I learned is that there is emerging evidence that shows that soft “safe” surfaces for kids on playgrounds can actually put them at more of a risk of being injured. This is because it gives kids a false sense of security, so when they’re playing on harder surfaces they’re more likely to assume they’ll be something soft to catch them if they fall when there isn’t.
Another interesting thing I learned is that there is a difference between a risk and a hazard. Risks are easily identifiable, they yield growth, and they’re manageable. Hazards are difficult or impossible to assess and uncontrollable. While jumping off of a rock into water might be a risk, it’s a hazard if you can’t tell how shallow the water is or if you don’t know how sturdy the rock is. It’s healthy to let kids take risks because it helps them discover their boundaries. I find it fascinating how in Denmark the adults make sure that there are no hazards, then they let the kids decide how big of a risk to take. In the US, it feels like risks and hazards are viewed as both being dangerous, and kids are more limited on what they can do.
On Wednesday, my professor brought us to a Cultural Center for class. This center was a big 3-story building which had activities for children and families. One room had a large concrete wall with slides and ropes to climb up it. There were no soft surfaces to land on like I’m used to seeing in America. A classmate and I went up to the top of a slide, and we were both nervous to slide down it! Eventually, we slid down and it was fine, but it made me think about how I’m used to everything for kids being made to be super safe. I brought this up to my professor and she mentioned how her son started by going down the smaller slide when we first got there, then he worked his way up to the bigger slide and climbed higher and higher. He was good at starting small and pushing the boundaries more and more as he played.
By this point, I’ve been in Denmark for over 5 weeks. I feel way more comfortable than I did when I first got here. I’m more used to using public transportation, talking to Danes, and just being in the city in general. Because of this, I decided to spend some time exploring the city by myself. I still had a lot of places I wanted to see flagged on google maps, so after class every day I went out and explored different areas. One of the best parts of this was finding new places just by wandering around. For example, on Wednesday I went to a famous graveyard for well-known Danes and I saw the famous writer H.C Anderson’s grave. Then I ended up walking to a new park in the middle of the city that I hadn’t heard of. The park had a big lake in the middle of walking trails. I was amazed with how I felt like I was out “in nature” even though it was in a big city. One of my favorite parts of Copenhagen is how much access to nature there is. It’s a topic I’ll be focusing on next week in my class!