Should We Let Children Play With Fire?

The short answer is of course a resounding YES from us!!! Read on for the long answer… 😉 

“Risky play” is one of our mantras and we believe passionately about equipping children with the skills to practise assessing and taking risks. Having a young child collect, build and light that fire is not generally a common sight, but here at Wildlings Forest School this is the perfect platform to engage in risk taking. Playing with fire is one activity that is likely to send most parents into a panic, and understandably so. The consequences if things go wrong are nothing short of catastrophic. But this is exactly the reason why learning this life skill is essential for all children and why teaching them at a young age is so important. Even as an adult there is something satisfying, warming and mesmerising about the flames of fire and being in control of its power. Lighting fires is so much more than creating a spark (though admittedly, this is the highlight for most of our Wildlings!)  

Lighting fires is a task that can be achieved by even the smallest of children. Creating the spark can be achieved through so many different modes, each creating a new level of complexity and skill, and as a result, an immeasurable sense of achievement when mastered. Whether it is a simple click lighter, matches, flint and steel (fire striker) or with more traditional methods, lighting a fire gives us a sense of power; a power that we need to learn how to use and control with care in line with the old saying, “with great power comes great responsibility.” 

Imagine the life-long skills that are engrained in partaking in this sort of activity. It is through engaging in risks that we learn all the elements of managing a risky task and we learn what questions we need to ask ourselves to keep ourselves safe. What materials will we need before, during and after the fire? How do we keep ourselves, our friends and the environment safe? What do we do in case of an emergency? And what is the purpose of the fire?  

Fires have so many uses! You can use a fire to keep warm, share stories, cook food, boil water and once the fire no longer remains, the charcoal can become a tool of creation, through the mediums of art and writing. We connect over fires. Fires bring us together like no other force of nature. And through connection our Wildlings have the opportunity for experiential learning. Long lasting, relevant learning that is mastered through the process of making mistakes and experimenting with ideas. Raising self-esteem, learning a valuable life skill, working as a team, creating a sense of achievement and building autonomy are just some of the by-products of risk taking. In a rapidly changing world, these are the skills and unique qualities that will help our children find success and to become the future problem solvers and action takers of the future. 

So if you haven’t let your children ‘play’ with fire yet, please give it a go. We promise it will be a memorable moment for you all. And if you’re worried about teaching your children how to light fires safely, feel free to come and join us on one of our fabulous fire days here – you might even get a cup of tea made especially for you by your child!

Stay Wild!

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