Risky Play in Early Childhood Education: A Risk Worth Taking



Abstract. This paper aimed to present a literature review, examine relevant studies and present their common aims and findings. Based on this review, the study also intended to discuss and evaluate the current status of risky play in Turkish early childhood education. The literature was chosen through online sources, including several books, reports and many articles in the journals. A comprehensive research was conducted through data bases including ERIC, SCOPUS, ULAKBIM and Complementary Index using the key words such as; risk, risk taking, risky play, risk perception. Sources were evaluated for eligibility based on predetermined categories such as the definition and categories of risky play, the value of risky play, and the effect of teacher interactions and school structure on risky play. The relevant studies were summarized using a template based on the predetermined categories and additional categories that emerged in the review process. In reviewed studies, it was frequently stated that over protective parenting style and a rise in risk anxiety related to children’s safety are common characteristics in modern society during the 19th and the 20th century. At that point, the key role of early childhood institutions in provision of risky play for children comes into question. However, there should be some regulations in schools in order to balance risk and safety. For instance, the staff–child ratio should be decreased to ensure active and appropriate supervision. Similarly, outdoor playgrounds should be improved to eliminate possibilities for negative risk-taking behaviors because of insufficient challenges or boredom. More natural elements could be included to increase the opportunities for risky play or the teacher might carry out outdoor play sessions in natural surroundings such as forests or woodland.

Tam Metin:

PDF (English)


Aksoy, D. B., Kılıç, U. Ş., & Kahraman, G. T. (2009). Asya kültürlerinde ebeveynlik stilleri ve uygulamalari. Çukurova Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Dergisi, 18 (2), 14-25.

Alat, Z., Akgümüş, O., & Cavali, D. (2012). Outdoor activities: Early childhood teachers’ beliefs and practices. Mersin University Journal of the Faculty of Education, 8(3), 47–62.

Amus, G. (2013). An Alternative Journey into Forest Kindergartens and Reggio Emilia Approach. In U. Harkönen (Ed.), Reorientation of teacher education towards sustainability theory and practice: Vol. 7. proceedings of the 10th international JTEFS /BBCC conference sustainable development (pp. 5-25). Joensuu: Publications of University of Eastern Finland.

Ärlemalm-Hagsér, E., & Sandberg, A. (2013). Outdoor play in a Swedish preschool context. In S. Knight (Ed.), International perspectives on Forest School: Natural spaces to play and learn (pp. 42–52). London: Sage.

Boyer, T. W. (2006). The development of risk-taking: A multi-perspective review. Developmental Review, 26, 291-345.

Brussoni, M., Gibbons, R., Gray C., Ishikawa, T. Sandseter, E.B. H., Bienenstock, A., Chabot, G., Fuselli, P., Herrington, S., Janssen, I., Pickett, W., Power, M., Stanger, N., Sampson, M. and Tremblay, M.S. (2015). What is the relationship between risky outdoor play and health in children? A systematic review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 12, 6423-6454. doi:10.3390/ijerph120606423.

Brussoni, M., Olsen, L.L., Pike, I., & Sleet, D. A., (2012). Risky play and children’s safety: Balancing priorities for optimal child development. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 9, 3134-3148. doi: 10.3390/ijerph9093134.

Cevher-Kalburan, N. (2014). Erken çocukluk döneminde riskli oyun. Kastamonu Üniversitesi Kastamonu Eğitim Dergisi, 22(3), 943-960.

Cevher-Kalburan, N. (2014). Young children’s opportunities and parent’s opinions regarding outdoor play. Journal of Studies on Social Policy, 32, 113–135.

Cevher-Kalburan, N. (2015) Developing pre-service teachers’ understanding of children’s risky play, Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning, 15(3), 239-260. DOI: 10.1080/14729679.2014.950976.

Cevher-Kalburan, N., & Ivrendi, A. (2016). Risky play and parenting styles. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 25(2), 355-366. doi:10.1007/s10826-015-0236-1.

Cevher-Kalburan, N., & Yurt, Ö. (2011). “School playgrounds as learning environments: Early childhood teachers’ beliefs and practices”. Paper presented at the 7th International Conference on Education, INEAG, Samos-Greece.

Deretarla-Gul, E. (2012). An examination of parents’ perceptions on playgrounds and their equipment. Journal of Cukurova University Institute of Social Sciences, 21(3), 261–274.

Eager, D. & Little, H. (2011). Risk deficit disorder. In Proceeding of IPWEA International Public Works Conference, Canberra, Australia, 21–24 August 2011.

Erbay, F., & Saltali, N. D. (2012). The place of play in six-year-olds’ daily life and mothers’ play perception. KEFAD, 13(2), 249–264.

Fjørtoft, I. (2004). Landscape as play scape: The effects of natural environments on children’s play and motor development. Children, Youth and Environments, 14(2), 21–44.

Gill, T. (2017). Policy on risk management in outdoor play. Tim Waller, Eva Arlemaalm-Hagser, Ellen Beate Hansen Sandseter, Libby Lee-Hammond, Kirsti Lekies, Shirley Wyver (Eds.) In The Sage handbook of outdoor play and learning (pp.-127-142). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Gleave, J. (2008). “Risk and play: A literature review”. [Online] Retrieved on 12-March-2017, at URL: https://www.springzaad.nl/litdocs/risk_and_play a_literature_review.pdf.

Greenfield, C. (2003). Outdoor play: The case for risks and challenges in children’s learning and development. Safekids News, 21(5).

Greenfield, C. (2004) ‘Can run, play on bikes, jump the zoom slide, and play on the swings’: Exploring the value of outdoor play, Australian Journal of Early Childhood, 29(2), 1–5.

İpek-Güler, B., & Ergül, D. (2016). Okul öncesi öğretmenlerinin riskli oyunlara yönelik görüş ve algıları. Ankara Universitesi Egitim Bilimleri Fakultesi Ozel Egitim Dergisi, 17(2), 97-118. doi:10.21565/ozelegitimdergisi.246484.

Karppinen, S. (2012). Outdoor education in Finland: Old experiential method in a new concept. Pathways: The Ontario Journal of Outdoor Education, 24(4), 30-33.

Kleppe, R. (2017). Characteristics of staff–child interaction in 1–3-yearolds’ risky play in early childhood education and care, Early Child Development and Care. DOI:10.1080/03004430.2016.1273909.

Kleppe, R., Melhuish, E. & Sandseter, E. B.H. (2017). Identifying and characterizing risky play in the age one-to-three years. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 25(3), 370-385, DOI: 10.1080/1350293X.2017.1308163.

Knight, S. (2012). Why adventure and why risk in the early years? Child Links, 3, 15-18.

Kostbahn, F. (2016). Reflection: Learning what is safe for me and my students. Exchange (19460406), (229), 94.

Landry, C. (2005). Risk and creation of liveable spaces. In CABE Spaces (Ed.), What are we scaring of? The value of designing of public space (pp. 3-11). London: CABA Spaces.

Lavrysen, A., Bertrands, E., Leyssen, L., Smets, L., Vanderspikken, A., & De Graef, P. (2017). Risky-play at school. Facilitating risk perception and competence in young children. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 25(1), 89-105. doi:10.1080/1350293X.2015.1102412.

Lewis, T., DiLillo, D., & Peterson, L. (2004). Parental beliefs regarding developmental benefits of childhood injuries. American Journal of Health Behavior, 28(11), 61-68.

Little, H. (2006). Children’s risk‐taking behavior: Implications for early childhood policy and practice, International Journal of Early Years Education, 14(2), 141-154. doi: 10.1080/09669760600661427.

Little, H. (2015). Mothers’ beliefs about risk and risk-taking in children’s outdoor play. Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning, 15(1), 24-39. doi:10.1080/14729679.2013.842178.

Little, H., & Eager, D. (2010). Risk, challenge and safety: Implications for play quality and playground design. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 18(4), 497-513. doi:10.1080/1350293X.2010.525949.

Little, H., & Wyver, S. (2008). Outdoor Play: Does avoiding the risks reduce the benefits? Australian Journal of Early Childhood, 33(2), 33-40.

Little, H., Sandseter, E.B.H., & Wyver, S. (2012). Early childhood teachers’ beliefs about children’s risky play in Australia and Norway. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 13(4), 300-316.

Little, H., Wyver, S. & Gibson, F. (2011). The influence of play context and adult attitudes on young children's physical risk‐taking during outdoor play, European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 19(1), 113-131. doi: 10.1080/1350293X.2011.548959.

Lupton, D., & Tulloch, J. (2002). ‘Life would be pretty dull without risk’: Voluntary risk taking and its pleasures. Health, Risk & Society, 4(2), 113-124.

McFarland, L., & Laird, S. (2017). Parents’ and early childhood educators’ attitudes and practices in relation to children’s outdoor risky play. Early Childhood Education Journal, 1-10. doi:10.1007/s10643-017-0856-8.

Ministry of National Education, (MONE). (2013). Okul Öncesi Egitim Programı. The curricula and regulation for early childhood education. Ankara.

New, R. S., Mardell, B., & Robinson, D. (2005). Early childhood education as risky business: Going beyond what's" safe" to discovering what's possible. Early Childhood Research & Practice, 7(2).

Play Safety Forum. (2008). Managing risk in play provision: A position statement. [Online] Retrieved on 12 March-2017, at URL: http://www.playengland.org.uk/media/120462/managing-risk-play-safety-forum.pdf.

Sandseter, E. B. H. (2007). Categorizing risky play—how can we identify risk-taking in children's play? European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 15(2), 237-252. doi:10.1080/13502930701321733.

Sandseter, E. B. H. (2009a). Characteristics of risky play. Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning, 9(1), 3-21, doi: 10.1080/14729670802702762.

Sandseter, E. B. H. (2009b). Affordances for risky play in preschool: The importance of features in the play environment. Early Childhood Education Journal, 36, 439–446, doi: 10.1007/s10643-009-0307-2.

Sandseter, E. B. H. (2009c). Children’s expressions of exhilaration and fear in risky play. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 10(2), 92-106.

Sandseter, E. B. H. (2014) Early childhood education and care practitioners' perceptions of children's risky play; examining the influence of personality and gender, Early Child Development and Care, 184(3), 434-449, doi: 10.1080/03004430.2013.794797.

Sandseter, E. B. H., & Kennair, L. E. O. (2011). Children's Risky Play from an Evolutionary Perspective: The Anti-Phobic Effects of Thrilling Experiences. Evolutionary Psychology, 9(2), doi:10.1177/147470491100900212.

Sandseter, E. B. H., (2009d). Risky play and risk management in Norwegian preschools: A qualitative observational study. Safety Science Monitor, 13(1), 1-10.

Sandseter, E. B. H., (2012). Restrictive safety or unsafe freedom? Norwegian ECEC practitioners' perceptions and practices concerning children's risky play. Child Care in Practice, 18(1), 83-101, doi: 10.1080/13575279.2011.621889.

Sandseter, E.B.H., Little, H., Ball, D. Eager, D., & Brussoni, M. (2017). Risk and Safety in Outdoor Play. Tim Waller, Eva Arlemaalm-Hagser, Ellen Beate Hansen Sandseter, Libby Lee-Hammond, Kirsti Lekies, Shirley Wyver (Eds.) In The Sage handbook of outdoor play and learning (pp.-113-126). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Sisman, E. E., & Ozyavuz, M. (2010). Distribution and use of proficiency of playgrounds: A case study in Tekirdag. Journal of Tekirdag Agricultural Faculty, 7(1), 13–22.

Stephenson, A. (2003). Physical risk-taking: dangerous or endangered? Early Years, 23(1), 35-43. doi: 10.1080/0957514032000045573.

Tovey, H. (2007). Playing outdoors: Spaces and places, risk and challenge. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Waters, J., & Begley, S. (2007). Supporting the development of risk-taking behaviors in the early years: An exploratory study. Education 3-13, 35(4), 365. doi:10.1080/03004270701602632.

Wyver, S., Little, H., Tranter, P., Naughton, G., Sandseter, E., & Bundy, A. (2010). Ten ways to restrict children's freedom to play: The problem of surplus safety. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 11(3), 263-277. doi:10.2304/ciec.2010.11.3.263.

Yalçın, F. (2015). A cross-cultural study on outdoor play: parent and teacher perspective. Unpublished master’s thesis, Middle East Technical University, Ankara.


  • Şu halde refbacks yoktur.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.




Creative Commons Lisansı

İlköğretim Online Dergisi Creative Commons Alıntı-Gayriticari 4.0 Uluslararası Lisansı ile lisanslanmıştır.

ISSN: 1305-3515