Children in preschool or kindergarten are in the learning phase of their life. Interaction to the environment helps them to understand the nature better and promotes over all development. Facing variety of physical challenges makes them strong as well as it improves children decision making in difficult situation. Avoiding outdoor play may reduce the chance of injury but might pose a bigger threat in future due to lack of proper psychology. It has been an important point of discussion that what will be the impact of different attitudes of practitioners on children opportunity to be a part of outdoor risky play. Many a time’s practitioners have negative feedback for outdoor play due to the risk involved. The study will spread light on the risk involved and practitioner attitude towards the different situations. Although it’s widely accepted that outdoor play is an important aspect for complete development of the children. But in the today’s world most of the children are busy playing indoor games and watching television. Preschools and kindergarten are centers where children spend most of their childhood time. Schools are supposed to provide outdoor playing and learning experience to children but outdoor play in school is sandwiched between lunch break. Natural environment provides opportunity to learn things which can never be taught inside the closed walls. Learning in natural conditions involves risk and parents want their children to be safe which limits the boundary for children (Aasen et.al., 2009).
This study will show what attitude different practitioners have for outdoor risky play and how that attitude impacts the children’s opportunity for outdoor risky play. It’s an important study considering the current situation of children outdoor play opportunity in Singapore. With the help of a collective response from different practitioners it will be easy to understand the reasons due to which a negative view have been created for the outdoor play. Now a day’s many of the kindergarten in Singapore are trying to create situation similar to that of outdoor in an indoor artificial closed environment. According to the practitioners the issues are still the same, injuries due different activities like climbing, sliding/rolling, snow angels and digging etc. Area of the study majorly focuses on the preschoolers and kindergarten in Singapore. Preschoolers are of the age 3-4 years and kindergarten 4-6 years which makes it hard for the practitioners to make them understand the safety guidelines for outdoor risky plays. Practitioners try to create opportunity for the children’s outdoor play but as each play has some risk associated, it’s important for parents to understand that if children will not suffer injury they will never learn the skills to cope the situation in future. Reach will highlight the challenges faced by the practitioners, risky situation in outdoor play, importance of outdoor play, safety guidelines to be followed during the play, practitioner’s attitude toward the outdoor risky play and what is the significance of the outdoor (Brussoni et.al., 2012).
The literature highlights the long running debate to establish a common definition for outdoor risky play. As there is variety of play, it’s hard to provide distinction between the types. This ultimately shows that we don’t have a universal definition. Without a proper definition we cannot justify the attitudes of the practitioners and neither risks & benefits can be narrowed down. For the study of this project we will consider outdoor play as an activity conducted only in the outdoor natural environment. According to Mariana Brussoni (Associate Professor of Pediatrics, University of British Columbia) it’s not fair to keep our children too safe. It’s important for the preschoolers to learn how to manage the situation on their own and without the risk and injury there learning will be limited. Staempfli (2009) clarifies that it’s important for the environment to be naturally unstructured, so as it provides children to grow emotionally, socially, physically. Generally practitioners try to provide exposure to the preschoolers in the school playground but inside playground provides limited learning opportunity (Ball, 2008).
Various researches shows that play which involve risk provide more enthusiasm and motivation to the children, which in return develop their mental health toward different fears (Boss, 2010). Research have also pointed that the increase in the childhood obesity is due to decreasing outdoor play. Furthermore obesity adds to different heart disorders and conditions of type II diabetes in children (Brown & Vaughn, 2009). The World Health Organization (2016) approximated that number of children suffering from overweight under the age group of five years was around 41 million. A recent evaluation done by Health Promotion Board (HPB) has shown that overweight children in the age of seven are very likely to be overweight in there adulthood as well. An Ireland study conducted by (Department of Children and Youth Affairs [DCYA]) shows that 20% - 30% of the five year old children are overweight. In Singapore, as in different parts of the world, stoutness among youngsters and teenagers has expanded ten times in the course of recent years. In the recent years it has been observed that in the Singapore teenager have more overweight problems and the issue is continuously rising. According to the experts all these are the outcome of the action taken to limit the outdoor play of preschoolers and kindergarten(Bundy et.al., 2009). Body demands more calories at the time of growth and when it’s not compensated with enough physical exercise it creates accumulation in the form of fat. In other words when children are involved in outdoor play they use to push their limit which provide an extended growth. New challenges provoke new thirst among the groups and they learn the lesson of perseverance and self-motivation.
An investigation (Barros et al, 2009) directed with kids with continuous access to regular outdoor environment noted lessened occasions of difficult conduct when contrasted with indoor partners. According to Dr Robyn Anderson, a lecturer in Early Childhood and Education at JCU Singapore, identifies that outdoor play engages children on live task. It offers decision and a test that is inside a kid's ability to ace in a peaceful domain. An Article published by Shirley Beng Suat Ooi of National University Health System highlights the issues of outdoor risky play and mortality rate due to injuries in preschools. Study showed more about the repetitive injury, which helps to understand what can be done in order to avoid such situation. When the result was analyzed it came into conclusion that 2517 children below the age group of 12 were injured while playing different indoor and outdoor games. It was observed that children below the age of 5 years (preschoolers) were most likely affected by home injury on the other hand children between the ages of 6 years to 12 years were affected by road accident, play ground or schools and multiple other injuries. It can be further concluded that most of the injuries that occurred in school going children could have been avoided if they have been provided proper exposure to the outdoor risky play at early age (Carlson, 2011). Most of the kindergarten and preschoolers faced home injury which fuels the fact that children will face injury even in the home protective environment. Hence parents should understand the fact that how important it is for the preschoolers to be a part of outdoor natural play so they can learn the how to avoid those injuries as they grow up. Proper safety education from the practitioners and the parents can help them to learn how to tackle different situations. Parents should understand that no matter how hard they try to keep the children in the protected environment, one way or the other they will be injured(Curtis, 2010). Allowing the children to be a part of the natural environment is the best possible way to learn and experience the challenges. Practitioners realize the importance of the outdoor play but due to high road traffic, weather conditions and other potential risky situation it’s hard for them to engage preschoolers in natural conditions. Many schools in Singapore have realized the fact and working in the direction to provide safe natural condition in school campus to engage the preschoolers in a controlled environment (Eichstellar & Holthoff, 2009).
Among the diversity of questions one questions which is asked by most of the practitioners, health experts and parents is “Will it be fair to provide closed artificial natural playground to preschoolers and kindergarten”. Responses have been positive from the parents but from the practitioners and other experts only consider that as an alternative option with limited expose and opportunity. From the experts view it can be said that they believe that good traits can only be inculcated by exposure to natural condition, allowing a complete mental and physical growth(Grambling, 2010). On the other side of it parents believe that being safe is of major importance so as the children do not get any kind of unfortunate disability at early years of their development. Now the solution to the problem is to provide complete safety guideline to the preschoolers to avoid any kind of heavy damage. But as the kindergarten and preschooler are so small that practitioners find it really hard to make them understand the safety measures and preschoolers are so small that they often get carried away which leads to injuries. As per the health experts outdoor play is extremely crucial for brain development. A study conducted over the animals shows the impact of play activities in early childhood. In the study rats were isolated after the birth for 14 days which is their most frequent period of play activity. When connected to the normal situation they should social abnormalities, further study showed that they had decreased growth of frontal lobe. It shows that how important it is for the animals to be a part of the natural environment. Similarly for human body growth and motor fitness it’s extremely important to be the part of risky outdoor play. Above situation shows that how important it is to conduct deep research in this area to provide a clear picture in case of outdoor risky play and analyze the response of new generation towards it(California Child Day Care Act, 2012).
As majority of research is directed towards the outcome of attitude of practitioners over children outdoor risky play has been conducted in Singapore. There are multiple questions in regards to childhood outside play activities but few are kept into consideration. Firstly, what is the significance of outdoor risky play? Secondly, how does practitioner’s attitude influence the children opportunity for the outdoor risky play? Thirdly, what are the risks associated with outdoor risky play. The study is conducted with the help of surveys and personal interview with practitioners. Apart from the theoretical part of research I have also contributed my own experience in the research. Research has revolved around quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection (Heinstrom, 2010). At the start my research was only orientated to the quantitative approach but sooner I realized there is a need to conduct qualitative research for several studies. For the purpose of data collection I have visited many practitioners to have their view over the topic. I felt a need to conduct surveys as well to gain more and more data as much as possible. The survey focuses on the response from experienced experts as well as from new experts in the field. Some important points have also been taken into account like how often experts promotes outdoor play, according to practitioners what’s the importance of outdoor sessions, what should be the time slot of outdoor sessions and what facilities & equipments are available for outdoor school ground play etc. All these data collection provide a clear picture of the different practitioner’s attitude towards the outdoor risky play (Jones, 2012).
Methods of data collection
Formal and Informal communication with different Practitioner’s.
In search of more accurate result I took the sample size of 40 practitioners (n=40) and their response was closely monitored. I interviewed them personally whenever I had time to discuss their problems and views. Discussion with the members was followed by set of question and effort has been applied to collect data from different set of minds. Same questions are repeated from both in favor and against outdoor risky play so as to be specific about my research. My aim was to provide complete justification to the all kind of attitudes that practitioners have when it comes to outdoor play. Although kindergarten children were not a part of the interview but I approached them as well in order to get little more clarity about their attitude and how they perceive the response from different practitioners (Knight, 2011).
Under this study I made myself available to natural setting to experience outdoor risky play and observe the challenges myself. For the research I went to one of the kindergarten school which organizes the outdoor risky play activity twice a week. The aim of the study was to understand how outdoor is different from other practices and how practitioners act in such situation. To identify the things deeply I divided my approach in three steps. First, I need to understand how preschoolers respond towards the risk hence I made a comparative observation of school play ground risky play and outdoor play. But I realized that outdoor provides more risk hence I concentrated my further observation to the natural environment risky play activities. Second, now when I already had an idea about the field situation I planned to look for the kindergarten which conducts the outdoor play more than twice a week. The significance of this step was not very clear to me at start but soon I saw the difference among preschoolers in terms of better social behavior and team work. Third, after completing my first two observations I was confident enough for the final step. The final step was to be the part of outdoor play with children and participate in different activities which involved building and creating new equipments from the things found in natural environment, climbing trees, playing in sand & mud and play fighting. This research consumed around one week but the result and conclusion obtained were very necessary for shedding light over the topic (Little and Eager, 2010).
Survey Data Collection
Survey data collection allowed me to take my research to the next level, as I had flexibility in asking questions. I prepared a set of 15 questions which can provide me all the necessary data I needed to finalize my research. Survey conduction is done through various alternatives like mobile, telephone, mail, face to face etc. Questions included into the survey are related to practitioners experience in the field, how often they conduct outdoor play and importance of the same, outdoor session timing and equipments available for the play, what risk outdoor involves and what benefit it gives in return etc. Survey helped to narrowed down the research to a point from where I can combine my theoretical and practical approach and reach down to a conclusion (Little and Wyver, 2008).
Strength and Limitation
While I conducted the researches there were times when I faced challenges due to limits of data collection techniques but certainly they were covered by other technique providing strength to the research. During face to face interaction it was easy to understand the mind of speaker by his/her gesture which helped me to collect data from verbal and non-verbal modes as well but on the other hand due to busy schedule of people I was not able to gain much data and it required a lot of effort due to which a large sample was hard to collect. As I conducted participant’s observation it helped me to provide strong validation to my research as well as I can add my own live experience but it was time consuming and at some points its conflicting being too subjective. Survey being an easy method for data collection proved out to be very handy but respondents answer credibility is low in this case and it involves risk of certain errors as well.
As a researcher I have observed and explored about my research topic and I have tried to provide credible information to my readers. Understanding the ethics my behavior and attitude was polite throughout the research. During my research I tried my direct exposure to the kindergarten or preschoolers and when I did it was done only after the permission from the parents and practitioners. I have received a lot of help from the Kindergarten staff and other participants of the research. Consent and confidentiality has been maintained while I tried to provide a credible research to benefit children development and growth.
Finding and Analysis
After the information was gathered, an investigation decided what number of events of unsafe plays unfolded in each preschool, which types were dominating, and the age and sexual orientation of each child. Codes were made to order the exercises and ecological highlights where hazardous play frequencies happened. An outline was made to demonstrate the quantity of hazard taking situations that were reported at each site and to thoroughly analyze the open doors for unsafe play as per the kinds of highlights that each site gave. Documentation of grown-up early consideration and training specialists' responses to chance taking circumstances were recorded so as to show the varieties of grown-up reactions to hazard taking in each program and for every classification of dangerous play. At the point when a grown-up was physically near a youngster or asked about that kid's wellbeing amid a hazard taking action, this activity was archived as supporting unsafe play. At the point when a grown-up saw a frequency of hazard taking and had no reaction, the conduct was recorded as, "no response." A scene of hazard taking that was not seen by a grown-up was recorded as "not saw", while a hazard taking movement that was halted by a grown-up was reported as "limiting dangerous play".
Survey Data Analysis
For Survey data practitioners from different school were asked to be part of short interview and then attend the survey question designed to understand their psychological response. There were set of questions designed to understand the practitioner’s response.
- Number of years of experience as an early childhood practitioner?
- How often do you go outdoors?
- How often do you think outdoor play sessions are?
- How long is your outdoor play?
- What facilities/equipment do you have for outdoor sessions?
- How would you define risk taking in outdoor play? (events)
- Which of the following benefit of outdoor do you believe to be the most valuable? (choices available)
- What barriers are there to providing opportunities for outdoor risky play in your setting?
- Which of these conditions would you be happy for children to play in?
- How confident are you in supervising/managing outdoor play within a ‘wild space’?
- What would improve your confidence?
These questions were designed such that a complete understanding can be obtained on practitioner’s attitude towards outdoor risky play. These questions provided flexibility in study and comparison between survey and interview helped to credibility of the information (Louge and Harvey, 2010).
Above data clearly distinct the pool of participants. It has been kept into consideration that data is collected from the diversified pool so that variations can be analyzed and studies. Major portion of the data are the practitioners between the experience group of 4-5 years and 6-10 years as well as a significant group of practitioners having experience more than 10 years. A fraction of new practitioners are also included in the analytical research to understand the change in view point of experienced and new practitioners. From the above data it came to knowledge that the practitioners having similar year of experience have same attitude towards outdoor risky childhood play (Mercer, 2010).
Collected information from 37 respondents revealed how important people consider risky plays are in the present world. It was shocking to see that 45% people (among the collected data) promoted risky play “thrice or more in a week”. But yet there is another group 55% practitioner who needs improvement in the frequency of outdoor play (Ministry of Education and Research).
Now if you compare this data with the data of outgoing frequency you can see that 76% believe that it’s very important for the preschoolers to be the part of outdoor play but on the other hand only 45% allows it for 3 or more than 3 days in a week. Which suggest that even after realizing the importance, practitioners are avoiding the expose and the reason is the various risk associated with the outdoor play.
One of the very important questions which have been highlighted through this data collection is how much time duration preschool and kindergarten provide to outdoor play. Further analysis showed that almost 79% participants were supporting 30 minute outdoor play, if same looked in comparison with data of importance of outdoor play session, it can be stated that there is resemblance between both.
Practitioners were allowed to choose one or more than one equipment which is available in their premises for outdoor play. It came to notice that most of the preschools have Swings, monkey bars, slides, Ladders, Natural elements, tricycles. Slides have been most popular among the different choices available. Analyzing the data revealed that most of the playground are made with artificial structure. There is need to include more natural challenging situation than artificial ones.
As per the responses it’s evidently clear that jumping, climbing and running at fast speed are major reasons for the injuries to occur. This injury can be life threating in some serious cases due to which parents are reluctant to outdoor plays but as per research dangerous situation only arise when there is practice of the event without proper guidance or when safety measures are compromised.
The chart shows that majority of practitioners think that due to parents fear/Attitudes outdoor activity of the preschoolers and kindergarten has been limited. From the beginning practitioners are complaining that parents are the primary barrier for childhood risky play. Analysis suggests that there are equipment and time available for the preschools and kindergartens but as parents are too sensitive their children they are against the early childhood risky play. Only possible way to confront such situation are to make the parents understand about the need of the outdoor play and how a children never without injury.
Muddy field and windy play have been most chosen choices for the fact that they won’t pose high risk as compared to the other. Children are generally kept in much closed environment and it’s really import for them to experience heavy rain and a very hot day as well. After analyzing it came to conclusion that it’s important to understand that hot weather will boost their stamina and heavy rain helps them to understand the nature. But considering the situation it seems logical to avoid heavy rain and hot weather as it might lead to harsh condition but total ignorance should be there.
As per the practitioners response it can be analyzed that they are ready to face the challenges that they might face while supervising the preschoolers in wild environment. Although some still have doubt on the same. One can figure it out that experienced experts are more into natural condition than the new comer’s.
Interviewing the practitioners helped to understand the difficulty they face with outdoor risky play opportunity. Interview was conducted based on a series of common question, such that a comparison can be conducted and conclusion can be achieved. While doing the analysis on the interview data obtained from different practitioners it came to the knowledge that there is a gap of communication between practitioners and parents. This leads to little understanding of situation and ultimately limiting the opportunity for outdoor play. One of the practitioner seem to have the similar situation of low understanding, practitioner says “I do not promote risky play as local parents are too protective” which shows that there is a need of proper discussion between practitioners and parents to create a understanding (Moser and Martisen, 2010). There was other feedback from the interviewee which was against outdoor play due to risk and parents concern. But more analysis of the interview showed that 80% participants were in favor of the outdoor play. The other important question was how often practitioner promotes outdoor play? Interview data puts the light on this question and it was noted that a frequency of 2 to 3 times a week was common among practitioners. Although there were some practitioners who agreed to the fact that it’s should be a part of daily routine, practitioners says “Absolutely! As often as possible. For example, I allow my children to run around freely to explore their surroundings, eg: play sword fighting with twigs, leap from elevated heights, slide heads down (supervised) etc. Also, when they take a tumble, I will first assess the situation and don't necessarily attend to the child immediately unless he/she is uncontrollably upset or seriously injured.” So we can say that children are supposed to be left with situation alone to encounter the issue and come out with a alternate themselves. Similar positive response from other practitioner “Yes, I think at least once a week would be a good enough frequency(Robert-Holmes, 2011). Somewhat. I'm taking the younger age group (PN/2-3yrs old). I tend to hover around the more "risky" sites / blindspots at the playground to provide assistance only when the children ask for help or when they are in a vulnerable position. When the children are confident in their gross motor skills, they will naturally run around the playground at fast speeds. However, if they bump into their peers and sustain a bruise, sometimes parents may be upset so my Chinese Teacher and I will remind the children to watch where they are running.” Response were different in nature and sometimes really complex, although practitioners understand the importance of the outdoor and in many preschools practitioners are just keeping the watch and letting the children handle their situation on their own(Rosin, 2014).
Literature and observational analysis
Literature provided a ground to the research and it showed that what view different practitioner and experts have on outdoor risky play. It helped to understand what the importance of the outdoor play is and what are the different risks associated with it. On the other hand observation on the field showed similarity to the literature but what I found out is that it’s really encouraging for children to come out and learn from environment. Practitioners understanding the dangerous sites and plays were already ready over there to take care of any unfortunate injury (Sandseter, 2010).
Finding of the research study has been summarized in terms of the key finding. The research question is; how the attitudes of different practitioners will have an impact on children’s opportunities in outdoor risky play? The study showed that risky play inculcates positive qualities into the children. Many authors consider risky play to be a bridge between Child-peers and child-adulthood. Risky play is considered to involve activities of high speed, jumping to be dangerous situations. The outcomes clarify that amid youngsters' dangerous play at common open air condition there are chances to build up kids' social skill. The exploration discoveries additionally show the exchange of correspondence, companion's cooperation, self-viability and youngsters' support causes kids to authority encounters amid unsafe play while in the meantime adds to create positive kids' relationship at kindergarten. Kids' support in arrangements, assertions, discourse and comprehending having a place into the gathering which creates positive youngsters' relationship (Sandseter, 2009). While I conducted the researches there were times when I faced challenges due to limits of data collection techniques but certainly they were covered by other technique providing strength to the research. During face to face interaction it was easy to understand the mind of speaker by his/her gesture which helped me to collect data from verbal and non-verbal modes as well but on the other hand due to busy schedule of people I was not able to gain much data and it required a lot of effort due to which a large sample was hard to collect. As I conducted participant’s observation it helped me to provide strong validation to my research as well as I can add my own live experience but it was time consuming and at some points its conflicting being too subjective. Survey being an easy method for data collection proved out to be very handy but respondents answer credibility is low in this case and it involves risk of certain errors as well(Torppa, 2009).
The examinations demonstrates that dangerous play at common open air condition gives more changes to play in gathering, thus more open doors for arrangements, understandings, dialog and making rules which impact emphatically in youngsters' relationship. I have seen that unsafe play turns into a chance to create positive kids' relationship while testing circumstances into play are understood by correspondence, friend's cooperation, self-viability and youngsters' interest. The exploration procedure together with the outcomes has made a few questions that from my perspective, the examination could be proceeded and extended. I found that common outside condition itself together with preschool expert's view about dangerous play could propose more thoughts of how those components impact in kids' relationship (Voce, 2011). Kids social skill is an expansive point as similar kids' relationship yet I think about that a few variables distinguished amid my exploration could be examined in further research, as building self-adequacy in kids through dangerous play. Social-social factors additionally assume a basic job in this exploration, I suggest for next specialists that conceivably will intrigue complete a fastidious similar examination about hazardous play as educational instrument to lessen harassing between youngsters into two diverse social setting. At long last, I think about that unsafe play can possibly contribute youngsters' relationship; therefore I recommend proceeding with examinations identified with hazardous play and social skill (Warden, 2010).
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