Childs play


Introduction to the proposed study area

The aim of this dissertation is to focus on the question of the nature of risk around children's play. What risks are the kinds of risks children prefer? How these risks are tolerated and coped with. What is meant by risky play the thrilling and exciting form of play which involves the chance of physical injury. This type of play can involve great heights, high speeds or even dangerous environments and elements. Risky play generally takes place outdoors and is generally through children's free play which is normally not organised by adults.

My interest for studying children's play lies in my perceptions of my son and that children seem to seek and prefer this type of play. Play is built in to a child's very nature this helps them to learn, and be curious about there surroundings and themselves. This is that they unconsciously test boundaries and possibilities from there environment to get a reaction. It is through this play that they discover what is safe and what is not.

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This type of play is becoming increasingly hard to find due to the welfare state of today securing our environments in order to avoid accidents and liability issues. This has set a trend to prohibit the dangerous, resulting in an aversion on taking risk. This focus on children's play and playgrounds has continuously grown over recent years bringing play to many discussions about the balance between safety, risk and the opportunities for children to develop through play. In this research I aim to examin issues such as safety accidents and children's developmental benefits of risk in play.

Aims of the project

The main aims of the dissertation are to:

  • Evaluate literature, best practice guidance, government guidance, and information on child development and risk
  • Research legal positions with in risk and play
  • The effect of risk upon an individual
  • Present a picture of children's play relative to a risk adverse society
  • Research the benefits of risk in children's play
  • Explain why learning benefits will be reduced by removing risk
  • Summary of risky criteria
  • Make recommendations on how to encourage risk to make the best use of play areas (by the use of case studies)
  • Research legal positions with in risk and play

Personal Aims include:

  • To complete the dissertation and gain my MA
  • Extend my knowledge regarding children's play and best practice
  • Gain skills in conducting research
  • Develop contacts through seminars, meetings and work
  • Prepare myself in furthering my employment skills

Scope and limitations of the study

The topic is selected because it represents, possible significant risks to the health and well being of children and any possible subsequent social or health implications, which could contribute to the development of children from risky behaviour. This study will focus on the healthy risky behaviour of children's play such as physical interactivity and unintentional injury.

The methods of study could include observational or interventional with secondary data analyses of existing information, analyses of costs and benefits of risk in play to children. A multidisciplinary approach will be used researching findings from children's behavioural scientists, education, public policy and others.

Which can be influenced by a multitude of social, environmental or psychological factors. These could be affected by genetic makeup, temperament and memory of previous experiences could all be potential factors. These can all influence the physical intellectual and emotional development of risk in play it is my opinion that children should be encouraged to expand upon current experiences to consider techniques and strategies such as decision making and goal directed behaviours.

Skills that could be developed through play are self-monitoring, self-awareness, stress management, mental imagery, prevention skills, conflict resolution, assertiveness skills, decision making skills, and will help develop healthy behaviors.

Both internal and external factors could contribute to an individual's tendency to engage in or refrain from risky behaviors. What these factors are, how they interact, for whom, and when in the developmental trajectory, are all questions of importance in understanding risky behaviors and behavior change and development in children.

Methodology and methods

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Literature search and review, data will be accessed through university library, city library's and information service using a selection of tertiary and secondary information sources such as the information database, bibliographic database, internet search engines, directories and journals. These sources will be reviewed and analysed through a qualitative method for my primary data collection.

Through observations and talking to children and school staff I plan to find out what kind of risky play children prefer and like to do. I will also look into how staff will arrange and cope with this type of play. This will help to find about children's and adults thoughts and attitudes on risky play.

I plan on observing children at several primary schools going about there every day life. This will allow me to get a better impression on how children's risky play differs. I plan on collecting recordings images and write field notes thoughts and reflections.

Studies of interest maybe:

Secondary data analyses of existing information and desktop studies

Benefits to children, issues and opportunities conduct primary research with schools

Observational studies case studies

Interventional how to make changes


The university facilities will be used extensively in support of my dissertation. In particularly the university library, computing suites and

on-line systems. I will also be attending

  • seminars and lectures
  • Conducting interviews
  • Using work experience
  • Conducting internet research
  • Reading books and journals

Time table

Prepare dissertation proposal

  • Literature searching
  • Literature searching
  • Intensive research
  • Final proposal

Bibliography listing

  • Dissertation presentation
  • Further reading
  • Draft dissertation
  • Editing and rewrites


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  • Children's Play Council (2002). More than swings and roundabouts: Planning for outdoor play. Retrieved 23 May 2009,
  • Dempsey, J. D., & Frost, J. L. (1993). Play environments in early childhood education. In B. Spodek (Ed.), Handbook of research on the education of young children New York: Macmillan.
  • Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Getting serious about play: A review of children's play. London: Author. Retrieved 12 June 2009,
  • Fjortoft, I. (2001). The natural environment as a playground for children: The impact of outdoor play activities in pre-primary school children. Early Childhood Education Journal, 29(2), 111-117
  • Fjortoft, I., & Sageie, J. (2000). The natural environment as a playground for children: Landscape description and analysis of a natural playscape. Landscape and Urban Planning, 48(1/2), 83-97.
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  • Greenfield, C. (2003). Outdoor play: The case for risks and challenges in children's learning and development. Safekids News, 21, 5.
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  • Little, H. (2006). Children's risk-taking behaviour: Implications for early childhood policy and practice. International Journal of Early Years Education, 14(2), 141-154.
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  • Mitchell, R., Cavanagh, M., & Eager, D. (2006). Not all risk is bad, playgrounds as a learning environment for children. International Journal of Injury Control and Safety Promotion, 13(2), 122-124.
  • 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 and Practice, 7(2). Retrieved March 3 2006,
  • Pless, I. B., & Magdalinos, H. (2006). Risk compensation behaviour in children. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 160(6), 610-614.
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  • Rivkin, M. S. (1995). The great outdoors: Restoring children's right to play outside. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.
  • Stephenson, A. (2002). Opening up the outdoors: Exploring the relationship between indoor and outdoor environments of a centre. European Early Childhood Education Research
  • Journal, 10(1), 29-38.
  • Stephenson, A. (2003). Physical risk-taking: Dangerous or endangered? Early Years, 23(1), 35-43.
  • Stine, S. (1997). Landscapes for learning. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
  • Taylor, S. I., & Morris, V. G. (1996). Outdoor play in early childhood settings: Is it safe and healthy for children? Early Childhood Education Journal, 23(3), 153-158.
  • Valentine, G., & McKendrick, J. (1997). Children's outdoor play: Exploring parental concerns about children's safety and the changing nature of childhood. Geoforum, 28(2), 219-235.
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