The Language That We Use

Topic Progress:

Children are positively or negatively influenced by the language and communication strategies early learning teachers use with them.  As well, how early learning teachers interpret and express themselves impacts the overall language that is used as a community of professionals. In the early learning sector, teachers benefit from being conscious of their choices of words so that they support outdoor play and the potential of young children to want to engage in play and learn outside.

Click on the audio play buttons below for adventurous play, challenging play, and risky play to hear the definition. As you listen to the words spoken, consider how hearing them makes you feel as an educator. Can you describe your feelings? It may help to look through this list of 62 words that describe feelings. Are you at ease when you hear about risky play? Perhaps when you hear the description of risky play, you are worried. You might be anxious and worry about how you will support children’s opportunities for risky, challenging and adventurous play and at the same time keep them safe. Consider the feelings listed in the table of feelings as you listen. Write down a list of five feelings that were evoked when hearing the audio.

At ease




Challenging Play

Challenging Play is something that children will create themselves as it involves excitement and adventure. A challenge is something obvious to the child where they can determine their ability and decide whether to take that risk. It is different than a hazard, which is something unseen or not obvious to children and can result in injury. Children require challenge in their play in order to move forward in their development. Early learning teachers provide support to encourage challenging play, especially for children who may be reluctant (Solly, 2015).

Adventurous Play

Adventurous Play refers to children being adventurous by taking opportunities to explore and test their own capacities, to manage risk, and to grow in their capacity, resourcefulness and resilience. Adventurous play is imaginative and creative. Adventurous play can be risky but it does not have to be hazardous.

Risk-taking Play

Risk-taking play, challenging and adventurous play can be risky. Risky play can be defined as a thrilling and exciting experience that involves a risk of injury, but more importantly, offers children opportunities for challenge, testing limits, exploring boundaries and learning about managing risk.


Play In order for an experience to be considered play, it must include a measure of inner control, the ability to bend or invent reality, and have a strong internally based motivation for playing. If there are specific requirements for an experience set by educators or parents, then it becomes work, not play (Dietze & Kashin, 2012).


Choose three words that best describe the way you feel about risky play and share them in the comment box below. At this time, choose a number from one to ten that best describes your comfort level with risky play with one being least comfortable and ten being most comfortable.

Take Different Perspectives – Families


Now go back to the audio and the list of feelings above. Listen again but now imagine that you are a parent of a child who attends your program. What feelings are evoked when you hear the definition of the words adventurous, challenging and risky play?  Are they different from your list?

Now return to the audio and the list and imagine you are a child. What feelings do you think a child might feel when engaged in adventurous, challenging and risky play?


  1. Christine Norman

    In general I think I would be a 6 or 7 on the scale when it comes to risky play.
    I think children often feel a mixture of feelings when it comes to risky play. Perhaps there is some nervousness mixed in with excitement and powerful and determined.

  2. Xintong Wang

    Level for risky play is at between 6-8 depending on what kind of risky play they are doing and what’s involved.

    adventurous, nervous, fun.

  3. Dana Wilson

    Exciting, Proud, Determined. My comfort level with risky play is usually about an 8 or 9 out of 10. This is my comfort level when I know the child and their capabilities. It is a little less when I don’t know them, maybe a 6/10.

  4. Heather Diewert

    Courageous, liberated, fun…
    Depending upon the child and situation my comfort level is from 4-9.
    If a child is a risk-seeker without a sense of boundaries it is a 4
    When a child is regulated and has a sense of boundaries it is a 9.

  5. Jody Anderson

    When I think of risky play I feel excited, hopeful and aware. Ecited becasue I know how far this type of play can extend and the learning that occurs. Hopeful becasue I want to become even more comfortable with it and aware becasue I know the risks that are involved when allowing children to participate in this typ of play as well as the hesitation in some families to allow their children to participate in this type of play.
    My comfort level would depend on the materials being used. Fire I would say at a level 5 but other things likely around a 7.

  6. Daphne Hachey

    i think risky play is the great and was a ‘daredevil’ type child who get excited watching other children have fun with risk and testing thier limits, my comfort would be a 9. my three words would be exhilarating, necessary and engaging

  7. Jennifer Yarmish

    Hesitant but excited and curious. I would say my comfort level ranges between a 7 and a 9 because there are different feelings for the different abilities of the children in our program. I try to assess the risk/safety level in my mind and work forward with that…and it is definitely different with my own children than with the children I care for at the center as I would never want to allow someone else’s child to be in harm’s way (and I know the abilities of my own children on a much different level).

  8. Lindsey Cooper

    I feel that risky play is exhilarating, nerve-racking, and confidence-building. As a caregiver and parent, I try to assess the risk and consider safety but I understand the benefits of risky play are better than the alternative. My number is at an 8 in comfort level.

  9. Nikki Littlechild

    I feel excitement, curious and optimism when it comes to risky play and children are so very capable in learning their bodies limits…most of the time. I would say my comfort level is 8/10 only because we have a lot of diverse abilities in our program and a lot of children who lack the ability to control impulse which with risky play can easily change the play to dangerous for themselves or other children.

  10. Angel Huang

    Choose three words that best describe the way you feel about risky play and share them in the comment box below. At this time, choose a number from one to ten that best describes your comfort level with risky play with one being least comfortable and ten being most comfortable.
    encourage, curious, surprise
    my comfort level is around 7 to 8/10. sometime in my mind, I still want to tell them to watch out or be careful or lend a hand for them.

  11. Shannon Stewart

    Optimistic, Curious, Fun! I am 9/10 for comfort with risky play. As long as children are supported, they can take healthy risks.

  12. Jessica Garner

    Curious, Confident, Nervous
    9/10 – I feel fairly confident about risky play and trust children and myself to be able to navigate risks effectively, even if some scenarios make me feel nervous.

  13. Ruth Novak

    Excitement. Engagement. Curious. My risk comfort level is 8/10. It’s still new for me, but something I often let the children try.

  14. Betty-Ann Ryz

    Encouraged, Interested, & Hesitant….comfort level is 8.5/10. Due to current society wanting to keep children safe from harm. However, I do understand the necessity of risky play for children. Just hesitant as educator and parent views can be so different…sometimes a hard relationship to navigate.

  15. Kimberley Thompson

    Curious, playful and a little concerned. I do a risk assessment and watch what the children’s physical level is at to see if that risky play will suit them or not . I get a little concerned that they can hurt themselves , but a little bobo is a lot better than a big one .

  16. Julia Kunz

    worried, anxious, curious-I have a tough time embracing risky and am actively trying to change my perspective!

  17. Amanda Christison

    As a parent I would say a good 9/10 as I give my daughter a lot of freedom to explore and to challenge herself, but as an educator I would say maybe 7 or 8 out of 10 and the only reason why it is lower is because I often worry about what parents might think or say if their child happens to get hurt and that’s what usually holds me back. Playful, energetic and curious is how I would describe how I feel about risky play.

  18. Nazia Mir

    Three words towards risky play for me are curious, confident, encouraged. my level is 8/10

  19. Lucie Pendergraff

    confidence, freedom and energetic. I would say I am a 6 or 7 as an educator. I have an issue with worrying too much.

  20. Nicole Morrell

    What feelings are evoked when you hear the definition of the words adventurous, challenging and risky play? – liberated, optimistic, encouraged. My comfort level is a 9/10

  21. Hilary Geddes

    optimistic, playful, encouraging 8/10 i love watching children explore their boundaries and self discovery through risky play

  22. Carli Olson

    Eager, courageous and determined when I think about risky play. I like to observe children during risky play and watch their expressions to gauge my comfort level. I would say 7/10

  23. Alison Rinas

    I am truly enjoy observing children explore risky play, my three words are; enthusiastic, inspired and amazed. I am a strong believer that children will only push their own levels of assessing risk in trying risky play to what feels most comfortable to their inner safety gauge. :).

  24. Romy Ralph

    curious, courageous, surprised are my 3 words that i think of with risk taking play and I would say 7 is my comfort level.

  25. Charmee Penner

    Three words I would describe risky play for myself would be thrilled, eager and inspired. I would would rate myself an 8/10 for risky play.

  26. Laurie Millions

    Three words that describe how I feel about risky play are: adventourous, fun, challenging. I would say i am at a comfort level of 7-8 for risky play.