How children utilize spaces and materials in outdoor play

A new article from the EnCompetence project:

Ellen Beate Hansen Sandseter, Rune Storli & Ole Johan Sando (2020) The dynamic relationship between outdoor environments and children’s play, Education 3-13, online first: DOI: 10.1080/03004279.2020.1833063

Abstract: Play is a fundamental activity for experiences, learning and development among children in their early years. Early childhood education and care (ECEC) institutions’ play environments, their features and design, are therefore of great importance for the opportunities provided for children to create and engage in a wide range of play. This study examines how children utilise features in the ECEC outdoor environment (spaces and materials) to engage in different types of play. Children (3–6 years, N = 86) were observed in two-minute sequences during periods of the day when they were free to choose what to do. The data consists of 935 randomly recorded two-minute videos, which were coded second by second to register the type of play occurring, the space in which it occurred and the materials children used. The results indicate a dynamic relationship between the outdoor environments and the play in which children engage and point out the complex nature of playground design, where planning for the predictable, and at the same time opening up for the unpredictable, is important.

Prevalence of risky play

For all who are interested in how much children engage in risky play, we have recently published and article where we look at this.

Sandseter, E.B.H., Kleppe, R. & Sando, O.J. The Prevalence of Risky Play in Young Children’s Indoor and Outdoor Free Play. Early Childhood Education Journal, online first: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10643-020-01074-0

Abstact: Research on children’s risky play and young children’s risk taking is a relatively new research area that has drawn the attention of many researchers in the last decades. Nevertheless, to our knowledge, no earlier studies have measured the prevalence of risky play when children can freely choose what to play, with whom, and where. Most research on risky play has also exclusively focused on outdoor play. This study aims at examining the occurrence and characteristics of children’s risky play, indoors and outdoors, in early childhood education and care (ECEC) institutions. Children (N = 80) were observed in two-minute sequences during periods of the day when they were free to choose what to do. The data consists of 1878 randomly recorded two-minute videos, which were coded second by second for the occurrence of several categories of risky play. Results revealed that risky play was registered in 10.3% of the total data material. The data is further analysed to explore distribution among different types of risky play, as well as differences between gender, age and environment (indoors vs. outdoors).

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

Abstract

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

Another EnCompetence newsletter!

Newsletter no. 9 from the EnCompetence project is now available in Norwegian and English.

I particularly want to point your attention to the fourth scientific article from the project that was published in July 2019 in Early Child Development and Care. You can find it here: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03004430.2019.1651305 . This article focuses on the importance of tumbling spaces in ECEC institutions’ indoor environment.

Ellen

Latest EnCompetence newsletter and a new publication

I have recently published the 8th newsletter in the project Competence for developing early childhood education and care (ECEC) institutions’ indoor- and outdoor environments (EnCompetence). You can read the newsletter in this LINK, and see more about the project in this LINK.

The PhD-student in our project, Ole Johan Sando, has also recently published his second research article:

Sando, O. J. (2019). The physical indoor environment in ECEC settings: children’s well-being and physical activity. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 1-14. doi:10.1080/1350293X.2019.1634238

Happy summer to you all!

Ellen

New article on children’s play, well-being and involvement

Together with my colleague Rune Storli, I recently published an article from the EnComptence project. The title of the article is Children’s play, well-being and involvement: how children play indoors and outdoors in Norwegian early childhood education and care institutions.

Abstract: In this article, we report on a Norwegian study exploring the relationship between children’s play, well-being, and involvement, and identify how children play in indoor and outdoor environments at their early childhood education and care (ECEC) institution. In this quantitative study, structured video observations (960 two-minutes sequences) of 80 free play sessions (indoors and outdoors) at eight ECEC institutions were analysed to measure the time spent in different kinds of play types, and to code children’s level of well-being and involvement, using the Leuven well-being and involvement scale [Laevers, F. (2005). Well-being and involvement in care settings. A process-oriented self-evaluation instrument. The results demonstrated that there was a significant and positive correlation between children’s play and their well-being and involvement. Children spent 2/3 of their time in different kinds of play during their free play time in ECEC, and there were significant differences between the types of play children engaged in indoor versus outdoor environments.

Here is a LINK to the article online.

Ellen

Report published in the SEED project

In the Erasmus+ project SEED (Social and Emotional Education and Development: upscaling awareness and skills in ECEC practice) we have published the report on our screening of psychosocial well-being of 5-year-old children in Croatia, Hungary, Latvia, the Netherlands and Norway.

Here are links to the FULL REPORT and the SUMMARY REPORT

If you want to read more about the project you can find more information HERE

Enjoy!

Ellen