The Risky Play Movement

Topic Progress:

Since the turn of the last century, advocates for children’s active play have continued to voice concern for the welfare of children whose childhood lacks play opportunities, especially active outdoor play. Think back to your own childhood, how would you characterize your childhood? Would you consider it an indoor childhood or an outdoor childhood? Did you have many hours of unstructured play outside? Did you take risks? Do you remember what it was like to engage in risky play? Now think about the children you know now. Do they have these same opportunities?

course3-additional-image-1There has been a flurry of publications about the importance of risky play from researchers across the globe. Among early childhood advocates, educators and researchers, there is a risky play movement. The aim of this movement is not to promote unsafe practice; rather, it is to help others recognize the benefits of this type of play far outweigh the risks to children. It seems like every day another blog is published that aims to broaden our understanding of the topic. When the history of the risky play movement is written, the following blogs may prove to be significant in the advancement of the movement.

Adrian Voce (2016) argues that ‘risky play’ is an ambiguous, contradictory term, open to misinterpretation and the whole question of how risk is managed and promoted is now tending to overshadow and distort some of the wider issues around children’s right to play. The dictionary defines an adventure as ‘an unusual and exciting or daring experience’, as well as ‘the excitement associated with danger or the taking of risks’. Its main synonyms are ‘exploit’, ‘escapade’, ‘deed’ and ‘feat’. Adventurous is defined as ‘willing to take risks or to try out new methods, ideas, or experiences … full of excitement’. Its synonyms are ‘audacious’, ‘bold’, ‘courageous’, ‘enterprising’, and, yes, ‘risky’. Risk on the other hand is defined as ‘a situation involving exposure to danger; the possibility that something unpleasant or unwelcome will happen; a person or thing regarded as a threat or likely source of danger. Its main synonyms are ‘chance’, ‘uncertainty’, ‘danger’, ‘threat’ and ‘menace’. Risky is defined as ‘full of the possibility of danger, failure, or loss’, with synonyms, ‘dangerous’, ‘high-risk’, ‘hazardous’, ‘unsafe’, ‘precarious’ and ‘dodgy’. Voce states that “it is not pedantic to want to find and use words that best describe what is being done and why” because language matters. He advocates against using the term ‘risky play’.

Ellen Sandseter (2016) responds with her blog, Risky play? Adventurous play? Challenging play? To say that in Norway there is no problem using the concept of risky play in the common language and the disagreement about terminology might be the result of different cultures and languages. While risky play and risk-taking have both positive and negative associations, Sandseter believes that we shouldn’t cover what we mean with softer words to make it JUST positive (and more acceptable for some groups). The meaning of the term should ALSO include the possibility of a negative outcome – since the fear of this outcome is the reason we have all the restrictions and surplus safety in the first place.


Kim Allsup (2016) has written a blog with the headline Please Don’t Say You Allow Your Child to Take Risks that states that “Risk management” is a bizarre phrase to use in relation to children because it is a concept originally developed for the insurance industry. She suggests that we should be minimizing risk rather than managing risk because children can be confused. Risky means dangerous so a child might interpret that it is okay to take chances and it is too risky to use the word “risk” when communicating with children about challenging activities. Emphasizing the word “risk” shows that we have the mindset of the helicopter parent who is more aware of danger than adventure, more focused on what could go wrong than how to prepare children to be both independent and safe in challenging situations. Rather than talk about risks, she suggests we use the words adventure, preparation and trust.

Tim Gill (2016) supports the use of the “R word” and suggests that the acceptance of risk is not just a detail: it is the single most important step to help get those who are anxious about the word to take. Using the word ‘risk’ is of value precisely because it faces head-on the possibility of adverse outcomes. Avoiding the word ‘risky’ and instead using ‘adventurous’ or ‘challenging’ is according to Gill like having our cake of uncertainty and eating it. The implied message is ‘your child will have adventures – but don’t worry, nothing will go wrong.’

We are in the midst of a risky play movement or even a risky play revolution and the language is being developed. As a professional, early learning teachers choose words carefully to meet the intended audience and context. Being aware of the discussions, controversy and thinking around the terms risky, adventurous and challenging builds knowledge that influences both philosophy and practice during outdoor play.

Write your answers to these questions in the comment section


  1. Barb Keller

    I guess the word risky to some is dangerous to others it is giving the children the experience to play.

  2. Angela George

    I wouldn’t even begin to characterize my childhood. I was very limited in my outdoor time and maybe because of that whenever I did get an opportunity I took frequent risks. It was exhilarating to engage in risky play and it gave me a sense of accomplishment and I always got in trouble for it. Sadly, most children do not get the opportunities for outdoor play and risky play these days and it shows in their confidence levels and in their gross motor skills

  3. Christine Norman

    I have taken a few workshops on risky play and have seen the movement grow in popularity. I have never really likes or used the term risky play but I haven’t really known why or had reasons to. I relate to some of the posts in regards to the term risky play not really being a great term to use. I do often discuss the childrens play with parents but I often use words like adventurous, open ended, etc.

  4. Michelle Davis

    I have used the term “risky play” for a very long time. I think it makes it so as educators we aren’t becoming complacent, which can happen. Risky play means that adults have to be present and very aware of what is going on, whereas the phrase “adventurous play” might make it so that the teachers can be less aware. And let’s be honest, do we, or don’t support risky endeavors for children?

  5. Xintong Wang

    For me personally, I feel people emphasize too much on a WORD. Play is play, and they are just different type of play. People emphasize too much on how it is worded rather than what they are.

  6. Cindy Spencer

    I agree to using the term risky as that is what it is all about, taking risks, challenging yourself and making decisions about your boundaries. People are way too sensitive to the way things are worded these days and will find fault in anything we call it. I agree with any of them but will continue to call it risky play because that is what I first learned it as, so will continue to say risky play as I find no fault in that word.

  7. Shirley Robinson

    For me as a mom risk was my number 1 scare, but now learning through, i did as child was like, let them play.

  8. Rachael Ewan

    I had actually not considered that using the term “risky” or “adventurous” would have quite different implications. I see a lot of families that are risk averse. I wonder if warming them up using a term like adventurous prior to risky would be helpful. Also, introducing the children to adventurous play before risky play can support a transition. (I see adventurous play as fairly safe outdoor exploration and risky is a level up from that where they are testing limits.)

  9. Heather Brekkaas

    We use the word “risk” in all areas of school. We encourage students to take risks on their work, to take risks by making new friends, so why wouldn’t we encourage risky play as well? Though if the kids hear the word “risk” in relation to the playground they seem to want to see exactly what they can get away with.

  10. Dana Wilson

    I am very comfortable with calling it risky or adventurous play. I can understand how she educators or parents may be uncomfortable with the term “risky” but I think generally these are people who will be uncomfortable with the type of play no matter what we call it. I feel the more education around this type of play and it’s importance to children’s development, the more adults will get used to and become more comfortable with it.

  11. Heather Diewert

    From an early age I had an Outdoor Childhood with hours of unstructured play, and had many risky play opportunities, and yes, I got hurt; scrapes cuts etc but I feel that because I had the freedom to learn to try things and learn to assess my risks, I developed a strong ability to do so. It was so liberating and fun to be able to experience my outside adventures and I believe it helped me to become a resourceful thinker.
    Children now don’t get anywhere near enough opportunities for the same types of experiences and I find are becoming increasingly afraid of attempting them. I also notice that more children are even having troubles navigating simple things like rolling sideways down a grassy slope, or even tolerating the sensation of the grass on their skin.
    To a degree I understand parents hesitations for this type of play. Not only are they not available to be with their children outside, due to lack of space and time, but so many outside people have an opinion on how others parent, that their fear of being judged, and in some cases investigated, hinder them from allowing risky/adventurous/challenging play to occur.
    As an educator we do have a ‘huge’ responsibility in caring for others’ children and we do need to be mindful of how we assess the risks their children engage in. We also need to be mindful of the words we use, so no matter what my personal opinion may be on terminology, I try to use words that would allow the parent/guardian to feel comfortable. If the term ‘risky’ is too scary, I would us ‘adventurous’. It comes down to knowing who your parents are ,and using wording that will make them feel secure with leaving their children in your care.

  12. Jody Anderson

    There were no questions posted that I could see. I will comment on the choice of language. I tend to lead towards the word adventurous play that holds some risk. When talking about adventure most of us are keen on the idea of exploring and discovering new things. As a parent to hear the word adventurous play I would think that my child is going to explore and would be more open to the concept. Although the word risky does make it immediatly apparent that there are some risks involved which might protect you a bit more if a child gets minorly injuered while exploring. I prefer adventurous play for policies and manuals I think.

  13. lisa.rodney

    I often use the term risky play but did not consider the controversy around the word. I like that it acknowledges the inherent possibility that things could go wrong but I think I have used the word often with adventurous and challenging and that is how I see risk. To me risk is not dangerous – hazards are dangerous. We will never come up with terms for everything that suit everyone – we are still debating what to call early childhood educators. We just need to be clear in our meaning when we are using the words and having discussions.

  14. Daphne Hachey

    I think that generally people think of risk as something negative and so risky play is associated with negativity but reframing the word risk and looking at risk as not always dangerous or negitive but as an essential part of life and tool for growth and progress

  15. Anna Mary McKenney

    I agree and think the term risky play can evoke a sense of danger. I think as educators what is important is documenting this play to show children’s caregivers how important it is and what benefits this type of play can have. It is also important to remember and educate that risky play is a spectrum of play because what may be deemed risky for one child is not for another. It is important that educators think of this while designing spaces and programming. When I was a child we lived at a summer camp in the bush so I engaged in extreme risky play which allowed my parents to be much more hands off and due to this my siblings and I broke many bones, had lots of scratches and bruises. This was normal for my parents but I understand not all parents would be ok with this

  16. Melissa Vail

    The term risky play could be worded a bit differently because I feel like it pulls up the risk or danger right away.

  17. Jennifer Yarmish

    I find the debate over the language used almost as frustrating as the debate over the issue itself. There are always going to be a variety of opinions on any given subject and this is clearly no exception. I think as ECEC teachers we can only do our best to educate ourselves on the benefits and then make sure that we put ‘risky play’ opportunities in to practice while making sure we are fully aware of what that entails …good and bad.
    I recall a child at a center that I work at who was injured twice while playing floor hockey – once in an indoor gymnasium space we had use of and once outdoors while in our front playground. It happened because he was a child that took life at full speed…a risk taker. His injuries happened playing one of his favorite games and even at 4 years of age he played hard. Unfortunately, his parents (mom in particular) were so upset that this happened, they demanded that the children…ALL of the children, no longer be allowed to play hockey. What this did was devastate a large group of children that really enjoyed the sport, especially their own son. I’ve never forgotten how frustrating that was and I’m hoping that we can help bring risky play to a place of better understanding.

  18. Krista Ambrose

    I have no problem using the term “risky play”. I like the children to go on adventures with risk. Others teachers show that they are scared the child might get hurt. How will the child not learn if they cannot take a risk and try something new. For instance, in our play space we have a small hill, when I started I allowed the kids to ride down it on a riding toy. I was told that they were not suppose to do that because it was too risky. However, the director of the centre told me they can because it teaches them about balance and how to stop. The children love these new option of the ride on toys. When a teacher told me my son was doing some risky things (playing with sticks), I was like that is not risky that is building up his curiosity and improving his hand muscles. She was not happy with me. I think that the teachers working together must find the wording they want to use and work together.

  19. Lindsey Cooper

    I think that our upbringing and culture determine each individual’s definition of risk and what it entails. That may be why some people feel that we need to change the language we use to define ‘risky’ play. This is why it’s important to help educate families on it being a positive thing and not a negative one. I played outside a lot as a child. Playing on haybales stacked high above the ground, climbing unknown wood piles (yes I got a nail through my foot), and helping with cattle. These were risky things and I survived, stronger, smarter, and with more confidence. The risk was lowered because I had adults around to guide me and teach me. I don’t think we need to change the terminology, we need to change our views on what it means in the early childhood learning environment.

  20. Bonnie Willson

    I spent lots of time outside as a child, and seldom were there parents around. I am not as comfortable with risky play as my parents seemed to be, but i do recognize the importance in children learning their own limits. I agree with risky play completely, in the context that, yes, it is risky, and yes , someone could get hurt, but either way the children will learn so many valuable lessons.

  21. Jasmine Park

    Educators understand risky play has a lot of benefits not only for physical strength but also for cognitive development (testing their limit, taking challenges..). However, I still can see some parents show their concern about the “risky play” because the term “risk” already has a negative image and risky play sounds like educators put children in the risk while children are playing. We need to be on the same page whether we educate parents to understand about risky play or change the term with positive image such as adventurous play or challenging play.

  22. Rachelle Gregoire

    I spent lots if time outside, we did lots of risky stuff. Kids do not have the same opportunities. Having risky play helps them gain muscles and balance. They get to try new things and test their skills.

  23. Nikki Littlechild

    Risky play is so important to child development. They have the opportunity to learn about their strength, body capability and be adventurous, They will encounter risks throughout their lives and building confidence in risky play when they are young will lend itself to their own decision making around risks when they are older. The word risk can be intimidating for educators and parents alike however exploring what that means and how it is important for children in play is important.

  24. Nicole Robinson

    I was not aware of the differences in the term risky, but after reading it makes sense. While I’m interviewing parents, I often set up the logs and balance beams in my area to promote the children to engage in ‘risky’ play. I use it as an opportunity to show parents what their child is capable of and judge their reaction to it.

  25. Grace Smith

    I strongly believe that children needs to be exposed in risky play to build resilience and confidence. It is very important for us educators to foster and support risky play.

  26. Angel Huang

    i believe all children should test their boundaries and push themselves to try new things or do new things. Yet for some of the parents understanding their levels of “risk” is another chapter. For ECCE we need to incorporate risky play because it helps with developing children’s growth , cautiousness and awareness. As ECCE we need to observe and just be aware the environment around the children.

  27. Maria Agustin

    When we use the word risky play, we have to consider that the parents is aware what is the difference between risky play and hazardous.When we let children to risky play it help to develop a child’s confidence and even risk- management.

  28. Maria Agustin

    Risky play is interesting to me. It help develop a child’s confidence, resilience and even risk-management skills.

  29. Lisa Goldsack

    I think that we are thinking too much about this. When I am talking to another Early Learning Teacher I know what they mean when they talk about risky play but why can’t play just be play

  30. Karin Freiberg

    I think our industry is talking about risky play but the interpretation of it is so personal. Based on prior experience, parents have very different comfort levels with risk. As a professional, I believe children must test their boundaries to become competent and as educators we need to ensure they have exposure to experiences that encourage competence.

  31. Shannon Stewart

    Although Early Learning is using this language more regularly, I do find that those who have not had exposure to what it looks like in practice may find it difficult to understand. This can lead to unnecessary worries and misinterpretation. For those not yet comfortable, I will explain what I mean when I refer to risky play.

  32. Jessica Garner

    I remember once hearing Teacher Tom Hobson suggest that risky play should be referred as “safety play”. Children are learning how to keep themselves safe in challenged or risky situations.

    For me as a professional, I think the term “risky play” is already a part of our professional vocabulary. I know that others understand what I mean when I refer to risky play, and I wouldn’t want to muddle that by using other terms.

    I do agree that the term might be confusing or off-putting for those who have not studied it to understand it’s importance. But again, I’m not sure opting for a different word would bring any more clarity. I would prefer to offer more context and explanation if I would like to talk with families or community members about risky play. Just as I wouldn’t assume that others understand what I mean when I refer to professional terms such as “parallel play” or “dizzy play”, I wouldn’t want to assume that others understand what I mean by “risky play”.

  33. Amanda Funk

    I think….. overthinking. When did play have to broken down into so many different pieces that we cannot even recognize it when it is happening. On the other hand, as our society become less familiar with “old fashion ” games, toys and practices we need terms to remind everyone where we came from and how we survived.

  34. Ruth Novak

    “It is to help others recognize the benefits of this type of play far outweigh the risks to children”. This is exactly how I feel about “risky play”. Growing up, I was always outside and was a dare devil, so I did take risks. I would fall and then go right back to it. Without allowing the children to try something risky, they are going to be missing out on a lot and also will be scared to try new things in the future. I can see why the work “risky” has a bad rep, but I feel as though, it should include the positive and negative aspects of the play.

  35. Kimberley Thompson

    Risky play is a very important part in the play process , children need to learn what they are capable of and what their limits are in the environment they are playing in. They learn by their mistakes and learn how careful in what they are doing.

  36. Mikaela Reyes

    This is very interesting. I like both contradicting notes but in opinion, I prefer to use the word “Risk” as it is more undertandable for children. I also like the questions raised against it because it opens up an opportunity fo rus to explain what Risky Play is all about to children’s development. I honestly never thought of this word as negative but more like a word reminding me about taking charge and fulfilling happiness.

  37. Betty-Ann Ryz

    Love the phrase…’Can we stop talking about risk? Instead, let’s talk about adventure, preparation and trust.’ Puts a more concrete meaning and more fundamental aspect on outside play. My childhood was great as I had the freedom to explore within my parents boundaries….stay where we can see you but if you need to go elsewhere let us know. With all the risks I took as a child resulted in zero hospital visits and lots of cherished memories.

  38. Amanda Christison

    This has been a very interesting module to read so far and I am excited about it. I too was unaware of how many differing opinions there are in terms of risky play – all have valid points. I think we definitely need more education on risky play – especially the benefits as, many people have stated, the word risk alone unfortunately can come with such a negative connotation. I think it would be really beneficial to have workshops with parents about risky play so that we could have an open dialogue about what their concerns are and we can all communicate to one another our common goals which is the best interest of the children. We are not letting children run around aimlessly in hazardous settings, we are nurturing and supporting them in taking calculated risks to help strengthen their mental and physical wellbeing. This is where the issue of wording is so important. Of course we want to frame everything in a positive light but risky play is risky play and there is the chance the child could get harmed so we don’t want to overlook that either. It is all about balance and finding the right words to describe what risky play is all about so that other people can get on board with it and support this important developmental milestone. There are so many more benefits and positives than the opposite and if we don’t allow children the chance to experience risky play, so much learning and growing is missed out on which can affect them later in life.

  39. Silvia Martínez

    Risky play is very important to me in child development because it teaches them not to be afraid and instills confidence in themselves. This section to me was very eye-opening because it taught me that there is more to the word risky. It has also taught me that the verbal and physical language we use can impact children.

  40. Minni Harris

    Prior to taking this course I was unfamiliar with the term “risky play” what I have learned so far has been very interesting and now I look at outdoor play with a new viewpoint. So definitely a learning curve for me no doubt we will have to reevaluate our outdoor play policy.

  41. Prabhulata Immaraju

    Interesting to read the different perspectives people have about different terms and how each word be it adventurous, challenging or risky brings different emotions in people. Our center’s philosophy clearly states that we support risky play and have dialogue with families who wonder what it means or who get anxious about it. Our yard allows children to climb, hang off branches, jump of rocks etc, but at the same time there are also conversations that we engage in, eg why helmets are needed while biking, why the educators not lift up a child n place them atop a big rock etc, the children are part of these conversations and they know that If they want to try something the teachers are nearby but they ( children) have to take the steps to assess their level of confidence in trying out the skill they want to achieve. They challenge themselves to take the risks to achieve their goal and that’s what we encourage them to do. The joy and confidence the child feels when they achieve their goal is just priceless.

  42. Nazia Mir

    The word “RISKY” for the parents is not digestible and they never gonna say” yes” to their child or children to participate. how can we convince them to allow us to bring their children for adventure play?

  43. Amanda N

    I believe that risky play is crucial for children’s development but not always easy for educators to handle, especially when finding a balance between the program’s philosophy and parent’s needs. The word “risky” might generate a negative idea/feeling, but we should use it because it is the actual word. Sometimes, play can be “risky.”

  44. Lucie Pendergraff

    Risky play is important for the child to develop critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. The word “risky” itself can have some negative connotation to it, especially without the education behind it. An educator hearing that terminology will understand the developmental advantages but parents may think it sounds dangerous. This makes it important for educators to share their information with parents to ease their stresses.

  45. Nikki Meyer

    I spent many hours outside as a child, having freedom to explore our neighborhood with my friends. I took risks in climbing, going to ‘secret groves’ in the coulees, and walking further then I should have outside of our area. It was exhilarating to be in cahoots with my friends and made us feel confident and capable. My children always played outdoors as well and took many risks in their play. They built ramps for bikes and scooters and even filmed themselves snowboarding off low buildings. Many times, I was happy not to know what they were doing until I was shown the videos, but I could see the joy and pleasure on their faces. I see the impact from these experiences as they have grown up in how they tackle problems and come up with creative solutions.

  46. Svetlana Babikova

    I like a risky play. But most of the parents I work with not comfortable let their children climb the trees and do some different risky activities. I believe one of the reasons may be parents not comfortable with the name, risky play? Children love to participate in something that they can control and manage. It’s our role to advocate for parents about risky play and why it’s so important for children’s development.

  47. Svetlana Babikova

    I like a risky play. But most of the parents I work with not comfortable let their children climb the trees and do some different risky activities. I believe one of the reasons maybe they not comfortable with the name, risky play? Children love to participate in something that they can control and manage. It’s our role to advocate for parents about risky play and why it’s so important for children’s development.

  48. Kathy Barnhart

    Think back to your own childhood, how would you characterize your childhood? Would you consider it an indoor childhood or an outdoor childhood? Did you have many hours of unstructured play outside? Did you take risks? Do you remember what it was like to engage in risky play? Now think about the children you know now. Do they have these same opportunities?

    I am thrilled that this movement is taking place. I often lamented the indoors, behind the fence existence tha many young children have to play in for hours and hours. I love the idea of calling it what it is. Risky Play entails being aware but not afraid, and helping children understand there are risks but they can manage them.

  49. Mizuho Kashiwagi

    I, as a parent, let my child play in my back yard by themselves. They climb on the tree, they go into the tree and hide. I take full responsibility if something happens to them. However, as an educator, I wonder if I can take full responsibility if something happens. Maybe we use the word “risky” because it is risky to us to let the children play adventurous play.

  50. Andrea Preissl

    At the center I work at we use the term risky play. Thankfully all the parents are aware and it’s no big deal. Although we do have one parent who does not like to hear when their child got even a small injury from taking a risk.

  51. Joanne Falk

    This is very interesting for me, at the center I work at there are a few parents who don’t like when we let their child be a little risky, standing on wooden logs with staff around in case something would happen for example, but the center is slowly moving forward and letting risky play happen with supervision and majority of the parents are good with it. If we never let children do risky play, they won’t learn and they need to know what they are capable of doing.

  52. Nadira Ramnauth

    I like to provide children with risky play. We just have to share information with the parents what risky play is, and let them know we are there to ensure that the children are being supervised at all times. Children need to participate in risky play to gain confidence in themselves.

  53. Caroline Driedger

    The term risky play when used with parents makes them uneasy some even afraid.How we communicate play can change a parents perspective.

  54. Lucie Theroret

    its important to use the right word we have to inform our parent about thee difference between risky play and hazardous play

  55. Nicole Morrell

    I think if we call risky play adventure play it has a different connotation that seems less aggressive and unsafe. In our Flight Curriculum we also call it dizzy play sometimes and that seems less scary as well.

  56. Erin Lihou

    As an ECE when I hear the term “risky play” I think of play among children that can can be exhilarating and fun but can easily turn to dangerous if not monitored correctly so it doesn’t get out of hand and become unsafe

  57. Hilary Geddes

    i think the word “risky” can iduce fear in families i believe it is important to explain and define what risky is to families so they gain an understanding of my philosophies and why it is important

  58. Laura Mcintosh

    I was unaware about how controversial the word risky is. I think it is so important to let children take these challenges and figure out on their own terms what to do with them. Giving information to parents and care givers is needed for everyone is on the same page about what this means.

  59. Alphonsine Hategekimana

    The word risky we expect differently, because there are people who take as a danger to children, others as having fun, engaging in something to strengthen the muscles. In childcare, the word risk reinforces the children to commit for doing something that is different from what they expected. Our role is to support children and encourage them in what they do.

  60. Janice Duncan

    Making a decision about what words to use to describe children’s play in the context of “risky” is a huge debate. I understand that the word “risk” can evoke a number of scary images and strong reactions from people, yet at the same time if children are not permitted to take developmentally appropriate risks, we are risking their mental health. Children develop resiliency by taking on challenges, failing and learning from mistakes. I agree with Taylor when she says” it’s important to not avoid using words that are appropriate for the given situation simply because they are not only positive”.

  61. Stephanie Vieira

    I am new at risky play but have been adapting to this term. When I try and talk about it to some parents they don’t seem to like the idea very often since they think their child we’ll get hurt. But I try and stay focus o the positive side of risky play and let them know.

  62. Ai Paul

    It is interesting to see when we talk about “risks” in play, we are only talking about physical risks. However, both educators and children take risks for sharing their ideas, developing new social connections, etc.. The word, “risk” has both positive and negative meanings and associations. I understand that people feel ease using terms, adventurous or challenging. If those terms work for families and educators and they are getting onboard incorporating the practice, then use those terms.

  63. Kamaldeep Sidhu

    I think most parents do not like to hear the word’risk’.I believe children need to give the chance for ‘risky play’.so that they can handle the situations otherwise if they do not take risk,they will never learn.

  64. Jaclyn Geiger

    I can see how ‘risky’ could be triggering for some educators and care givers as there seems to be a lot more rules and safety precautions to list and check off today then in past learning environments. But personally, I see the importance of using this word as it brings about important conversations to grow understanding of the need to ‘adventure’. I had hours of free time playing outdoors and exploring. Some risks were beneficial to positive growth and others came with bumps & bruises, but I had the opportunity.

  65. Deborah Fehr

    I love the word adventurous! That sounds like so much fun. Still, I am sure to also use the word risky so that it can be defined and understood differently. To me an adventure is something that indicates courage to go into the unknown and challenge where we have been and where we can go. And yet we bring all our past experience and knowledge with us so that we can be safe on our adventure. Risk is the same. We don’t know for sure where we are going or what we can accomplish and it challenges our comfort level and yet we bring all our past experiences and knowing with us so we can make calculated risks.

  66. Carrie Maclellan 

    This is a neat idea, I think its hard sometimes not to get wrapped up in the perceptions of what things may mean or what the underlying implications might be, not just for your staff but for children and their families also.

  67. Lorraine Kok

    There is a difference between risky play and hazardous play we as early childhood educators have the best interests and safety concerns for all of our children. If we educate our parents and caregivers about our philosophy and the benefits for their children should go well.

  68. Kathryn Armstrong

    I think adventurous, challenging and risky paly can exist on a continuum. Younger children will usually engage in adventurous play then challenging and finally move on the risky play. Acknowledging that children are capable of assessing risk because they have engaged in adventurous and challenging play is key to understanding risky play. Eliminating the use of the term risky play does not respect how the child has come to engage in that level of play.

  69. Heidi Dueck

    I often define what risky play is so that families understand my philosophy. I want them to know it’s supervised, thought out and carefully done. I will document risky play to help them understand.

  70. Christine Villeneuve

    There is definitely a different between hazardous and risky. Educating ourselves and families about the benefits of risky play – and defining risky play (it might not mean at risk!) – is so important.

  71. Carli Olson

    I think maybe some people hear the word risky and associate it with getting hurt and danger, regardless its so important for children to engage in risky play to further their skills.

  72. Patricia Lynch-Staunton

    I use the word risky because within it is the conception of calculation. The child assesses what is too challenging or adventurous in the moment and moves on from things that have been mastered. This understanding of calculation supports us thinking of children as the managers of their play and devleopment, and as capable and strong.

  73. Heather Howard

    Risky play is a term that I hear many educators discussing. Some educators are more comfortable with the term and allowing children more independence to make decisions about their play while some are very cautious and aren’t willing to take the risk if something were to happen to a child. There is a lot more t learn about this topic but I do see educators interested in learning more so they can understand and perhaps embrace the fact that risky play is important and does have positive outcomes for children.

  74. Krissa Rathgeber

    Certainly there is much debate about the word risky so educating parents and educators around the difference between a risk and a hazard is so important.

  75. Daniela Rodriguez

    Overall, sometimes a word might promote something negative when in reality it’s spreading positivity. Society needs to work on what should be normalized and what should be looked over with different eyes.

  76. Randi Robertson

    This was interesting to learn .I didn’t know about the debate about the word in particular. However, I am all for “risky” play, this gives the kids a chance to learn for themselves and learn how to be gentle and careful with others around.

  77. Alison Rinas

    I would have to agree that the wor”risky” provides parents or educators who are nervous of the possibility of what could happen in a bad way. Using other works such as adventurous or challenging allows one to think a child us being a persistent or capable learner. I really enjoy the article written by Adrian Voice (2016) that defined all the word and terms. I feel parents who are nervous need to hear and understand more clearly.

  78. Romy Ralph

    I think the word “risk” is definitely a word most parents do not want to hear when it comes to their child at preschool. The language that we use is important so parent’s are aware of how their children learn through this type of play and that it can be positive.

  79. Susanne Saunders

    I have to look at risky play differently. I had a hard time with risky play but understanding it more. My words need to be positive.

  80. Kim Hoey

    I have taken a workshop in the past on risky play. I am aware that there is a debate surrounding this subject. I am for risky play. I understand that children need to be given the chance to succeed and to fail. Life is all about these things. Children need to know how to handle both of these situations.

  81. Charmee Penner

    I was aware of the debate on risky play or risk in general. I think that risky play allows for children to develop a intrinsic regulation and often found that when educators instructed children not to participate in risky play that children would do it behind educators back and then they are doing it without supervision. I think that children have a drive to explore risky play and when we attempt to squash this drive we are really damaging the relationship with that child.

  82. Laurie Millions

    I am a strong believer in risky outdoor play for children. If children don’t take some risks then they will never learn. I brought outside a frozen ice block for a Dino dig at work. I gave 2 children a hammer and explained how we needed to be safe with it while hitting the ice. The chunks of ice were flying everywhere. One child brought a plastic lid from a container and said to me, “We can use this as a shield so the ice doesn’t get in our eyes.”

  83. Anita Morgan

    This has really got me thinking about the words that we use, and yes our language is very important

  84. Jessica Popp

    With a group of educators we recently had a conversation about how parents are preserve the word and work of the child and their risky play. If educators refer to play as risky, parent will also perceive it as risk. Rather using other words to describe this type of play can be extremely valuable to creating a positive outcome.

  85. Taylor Aichelberger

    I found this section very interesting, and I was not aware that there was such debate particularly around the word “risky”. In general, I think it is important to not avoid using words that are appropriate for the given situation simply because they are not only positive.