Barriers for Outdoor Play in ECEC

Earlier this fall some colleagues and I published an article on barriers for outdoor play in ECEC in five different European countries. You can find the article here (click):

Sandseter, E. B. H., Cordovil, R., Hagen, T. L., & Lopes, F. (2019). Barriers for Outdoor Play in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) Institutions: Perception of Risk in Children’s Play among European Parents and ECEC Practitioners. Child Care in Practice, 1-19. doi: 10.1080/13575279.2019.1685461


Risk aversive perceptions and practices among ECEC practitioners and parents have proven to be an important reason for the decline of young children’s opportunities for free outdoor play. Yet, there are also cultural differences in the perception of children’s risky play. This study aims at examining the factors that ECEC practitioners and parents experience as barriers for children’s outdoor play, especially those associated with risk. ECEC practitioners and parents in five different European countries (Greece, Portugal, Estonia, Croatia and Norway) received questionnaires about their perception of children’s outdoor play. The sample consists of 32 ECEC practitioners and 184 parents. Results show that parents and ECEC practitioners from Norway are less risk aversive to children’s play than those from the southern European countries. Traffic is a barrier for outdoor play among parents from all countries (above 50%), and stranger danger is particularly noticed in parents from Greece (80.6%) and Portugal (62.9%), whereas in Norway this value is only 13.3%. The mean average age from which parents allow their children to play outside is quite different between the participating countries, ranging from 5.8 years in Norway to 11.8 years in Greece. In total, fear of children getting injured and adults’ own concern/anxiety are only mentioned as barriers by 9.4% and 3.1% of ECEC practitioners, respectively. Lack of play spaces (74.3%) and poor play facilities (80%) are also considered obstacles to letting children play outside by Greek parents, whereas Portuguese ones emphasized media alerts (61.3%). Our results suggest a differentiated approach between countries to tackle the reported barriers to children’s outdoor risky play.

The article is part of the MLO-project


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s