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

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: . This article focuses on the importance of tumbling spaces in ECEC institutions’ indoor environment.


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!


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.


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



Risky play in the new Framework plan for ECEC in Norway

In August 2017 a new Framework plan for Kindergartens (ECEC) in Norway was implemented. One of the new things in the plan, compared to the last one, was an even stronger emphasis on the importance of risky play.

See an English version of the Framework plan HERE

As you can see under Learning area Body, movement, food and health on page 49, the plan particularly points out that “By engaging with the human body, food and health, kindergartens shall help the children to…(…)…evaluate and master risky play through physical challenges“, and “The staff shall…(…)…be proactive and present, support and challenge the children to engage in physical play and acknowledge their achievements“. It also have important phrases such as “(…help children to)…experience well-being, joy and achievement through a variety of physical activities, indoors and out, all year round” and “(…help children to)…continue to develop their motor skills, body control, co-ordination and physical capabilities

I am looking forward to how the ECEC institutions in Norway will continue working with this in the future. It is for sure an important back up from the Ministry of Education and Research for institutions struggling with outside pressure to remove all risk, challenge and fun for their children!