Working with Others – Addressing Concerns

Topic Progress:

Concerns and worries of families “are individual due to their uniqueness and the uniqueness of each child” (Solly, 2015, p. 106). Kathyrn Solly (2015) in her book, Risk, Challenge and Adventure in the Early Years: A Practical Guide to Exploring and Extending Learning Outdoors, addresses some of these concerns, including the three featured in the graphic. Click on the words below to reveal more and then add your ideas to the comment section.



Strangers – “Stranger danger” can be high on the list of concerns a family may have so it is important that they know the procedures that are put into place such as visitor check in, badges, door security, etc. that will help them to know the ways that their child is being kept safe and secure.

Getting Dirty

Getting Dirty – this can be a practical concern for families and a way to address this concern is to have a washer and dryer so that the child can go home with clean clothes and that the child has multiple sets of clothing available.

Physical Safety

Physical Safety – there is a hierarchy of “feeling safe” and if families are worried about their children’s safety this can transfer to the child who may become less confident to join in. Help to alleviate these concerns by sharing policies and procedures in place to help keep children safe. Learn about the child’s home experiences so that you can work together.

Early learning professionals also have concerns. By clicking on the words below, you will learn more about some that have been identified by Solly (2015).


Safety- A balance needs to be struck between the risks and benefits of outdoor, risky and challenging play. Policies and procedures should always be in place and risk assessments done on a regular basis.


Leadership – Those who are in leadership positions need to lead by example. The ethos, principles and vision of a setting should support early learning professionals to offer children opportunities for risky play.

First aid, Accidents

First aid, accidents – First aid training, first aid kits and policies and procedures need to be in place to address minor and more serious accidents.

Safety Procedures

Safety Procedures – Daily checks of equipment and resources will help to eliminate hazards and ease concerns.


Clothing – Children and staff should have basic clothing to suit the weather.



  1. Christine Norman

    I generally have not had too many families concerned about the children getting dirty or going home dirty. Muddy buddies and changes of clothes are a must in childcare. I think one of the biggest barriers for risky play is the potential for injury. I think by regularly inspecting the area and observing and mitigating the risks educators can reduce the potential for injury. Having clear policy and procedures for parents and educators can ensure everyone is on the same page.

  2. Michelle Davis

    We have invested in a class set of muddy buddies as well as boots and shoes. We have a washer and dryer and lots of extra clothing for the children to change into and borrow. Staff are always encouraged to converse about these topics to make sure we are all on the same page, to discuss risks and concerns.

  3. Nikki Littlechild

    We keep extra clothing on hand and have a washer and dryer. We are up front with our families and they understand their children will play hard and get dirty. We have sourced used clothing for some families that may not have any spares. We have also helped families get appropriate outdoor wear in the past for their child such as winter boots. We also have boots and muddy buddies on hand for each child for rainy days so there is less pressure on families to provide extra clothing and sufficient rain gear.

  4. Heather Diewert

    I am finding that parents and concerned staff are the biggest barriers to risky play and, it does trickle down to the children.
    If dirty clothing is an issue, and funding allows for it, having spare muddy buddies or clothing to change children into before going out, can reduce laundry for families.
    Having clear policies written in place for families as they join the program clearly let’s parents know that adventurous play is in the curriculum so they can make a decision before enrolling as to whether or not they are comfortable leaving their children in your program. Even inviting them to your centre to watch the children at play before enrolling may give families a better understanding and acceptance of how well maintained and monitored the risky play is.
    Educating families and documenting the play in the parent area is important and will show the positives and benefits of this play in action.

  5. Dana Wilson

    I am very thankful to work in a centre that has laundry onsite and we have a large supply of children’s clothes, shoes and outdoor gear when needed. It seems to relieve the parents worry about their child being, muddy, dirty or wet. We always send them home in dry clothes.

  6. lisa.rodney

    Our programs have purchased one-piece rain suits for children to wear over their clothing. For parents, it’s not always just a preference that children come home clean. some families can’t afford to have extra loads of wash, or ruined clothing. Washing clothing at the program is helpful, but frequent washing does wear clothing out faster. Our programs also provide reimbursement to educators for a set amount for clothing needed for weather. This helps to support them in having what they need as well as that can be a huge contributing factor in getting children outdoors.

  7. Heather Brekkaas

    Appropriate clothing is the most important thing where I live. So many parents don’t send kids to school with the proper winter clothing, but they still have to go outside unless it’s colder than -20. Same with the summer, it was 27 above today (really hot for here) and we had kids in sweaters, and very few had sunscreen, hats, or water bottles. All very important this time of year.

  8. Rachelle Gregoire

    Great point is we all need appropriate clothing . We need to keep conversations open about parents expectations and needs. It would be great if there were more conversations about the importance of outdoor play

  9. Daphne Hachey

    parents and educators not understanding the importance of outdoor play can lead to making decions that enable children from engaging in risky play because they think it is unimportant which leads to children missing out on important developmental oppurtunities

  10. Jody Anderson

    Another concern families may have is that they don’t believe that risky play is important and would rather see their child indoors preparing for the next steps ie. preparing for kindergarten, preparing to move to the next group etc. If a parent doesn’t believe in the importance of this type of play there may be some uncomfortable conversations on the days that this type of play is occuring or may even have the parent refusing to give the caregivers permission for their child to participate. Thats where hopefully the education piece would all come into play.

    Families need to feel confident that all safety measures are in place and that staff are trained in first aid in case something ever happened. By knowing that the staff is prepared it will give the parents a bit more piece of mind.

  11. Anna Mary McKenney

    I think being on the same page as your team is very important and having the same boundaries. I think it is also important under current Covid policies that all levels of management are on the same page as parents can not come into the building to see how engaged their children are, our supervisors need to be supporting us when communicating with families

  12. Krista Ambrose

    I currently find it hard when some families and co-workers understand the benefits of risky play but some don’t. I am willing to let the children try experiences but other staff jump and stop them. Even talking to staff does not help, they do not understand that this is healthy for the children. They believe they are right and that I am wrong. I am slowly adding information to the staff bulletin board about the importance of risky play (and outdoor play!). As for parents, I tell them about the benefits and give them links to read online. I am hoping that this will bring more staff and parents to my risky side 🙂

  13. Katarina Ninkovic

    I experience this every year with at least one family, but i always make sure to have the best information and resources available for the parents, and make sure they have a enough to be comfortable with this idea!

  14. Jasmine Park

    Being on the same page is really important. We need to share our belief and philosophy on outdoor play and encourage families to get involved with us. Sharing information and experiences and daily interaction with families will enable us to achieve our goals.

  15. Grace Smith

    The first thing that we do when a child is enrolled in the program, we orient the parents about our program . We communicate all expectations and they feel more comfortable.

  16. Maria Agustin

    Open communication is important to educators and parents. We always ask parents to bring clothes if they get dirty.Sharing pictures to the families what they learn and tell them the benefits.

  17. Angel Huang

    i think open communication with families help ease their concerns, and building the trust with them also is very important.
    i have witness a lot of parents in my centre that they do not like it when their children get dirty and most of the time is because they wear high end clothes to the centre. As the staff need to tell the parents not to wear things that they don’t want to get dirty to the centre, yet they seems to not understand. Which is very frustrated at the end. However, we kept reminding them a day ahead what is our schedule or activity look like the next day, then they start to bring extra clothes to help.
    Also some parents are over protective or helicopter parents, if their children get bruise or cut or their kids said they got hit by another child at the centre, will be a dramatic day at our centre. Sometime it is a lot of work for those parents who are over protective, and yes as an ECCE we see the children is less welling to try new things or even take any risks while outdoor. It is just a lot of communication back and forth with them.

  18. Nicole Robinson

    Of of these are valid concerns by parents and educators alike. I have one child in my facility who does not like to take risks at all. I see it in her family life as well and in the anxiety with mom. Unfortunately, the family fears can not be overcome. Sometimes, unfortunately, a child is not going to be able to learn to take risks if it is not modeled and encouraged at home.

  19. Ruth Novak

    The children can learn by watching their educator model the correct behaviours. This will take time for everyone to be on the same page. I know my colleague sometimes does not enjoy watching the children, but I want them to learn from error (like jumping in puddles with shoes on or soaking thru their muddy buddies). Everyone has to know the great benefits that come with risky outdoor play. If the children fall, they will get back up and they will try harder next time.

  20. Betty-Ann Ryz

    Sharing learning stories and photos with families could help ease concerns parents may have. Plus, explaining or educating what the child is learning and showing the benefits.

  21. Shannon Stewart

    Through setting an example and sharing the practices that make risky play safe within policies and procedures, leaders can support educators and families to find comfort with risky play. Reflecting in communities of practice is another way to support educators to understand the importance of risky play and how to incorporate it in their practice at a level that is comfortable for them.

  22. Karin Freiberg

    I feel that you need to have open communication with families and respectfully address their concerns. Providing information on risk vs hazard and ensuring parents know the risk involved will usually ease their fears. We also need to ensure that families are aware of the benefits of risky play.

  23. Jessica Garner

    I think relationships and open communication are key. It’s important that families feel welcome to share their concerns, and that their concerns will be heard and addressed with respect.

  24. Amanda Funk

    Education collages and families is key. Everyone will feel more comfortable, understood and prepared if a dialogue about this type pf play is established before introduced.

  25. Amanda Christison

    I think communication and relationships are the most important thing I take away from this. You will always have parents or educators that seem more concerned or preoccupied than others about keeping children safe and that is totally ok – we need to find a way to make that work for everyone involved. Building a trusted and respectful relationship with open and ongoing communication is key. Be transparent with parents and explain all of the policies and procedures in place that keep everyone safe – listen to them non judgmentally even if you don’t necessarily agree. Ask for lots of extra clothing as children can and will get messy. Show them the pictures and documentation that supports what it is the children are exploring and learning so that we can show the intention and method behind it.

  26. Silvia Martínez

    That’s very important to have close communication with their families and sometimes the parents don’t provide children clothes appropriate for the season but in this case I provide by my shelf and always be ready to change the children when they are dirty

  27. Minni Harris

    We have had parents who were concerned about safety and clean clothes we assure them off our safety protocols, we ask for ID if new alternate picks up or drops off a child to our program. We purchased muddy buddy’s to keep the children so,what clean when we venture out for nature walks or playing in our playground.

  28. Amanda N

    Parents that I work with are more concerned about their children’s safety and very little about dirty clothes, mainly because we always have at the centre spare clothes in case if a child doesn’t have extra. Parent’s concern about safety always makes me feel concerned too. They will always show how upset they are, even with a tiny scratch on their child’s face. So, the team needs to have a solid risky play philosophy to share with parents when their children start in the program.

  29. Svetlana Babikova

    Most educators and parents concern about safety and get dirty when children participate in risky play. I believe educator’s role to support parents, provide resources on how to manage risk, and what kind of experiences provide to the children that activity can be safe. When parents have resources and participate in the risky activity, they can see the importance of risky play.

  30. Nikki Meyer

    I feel many educators have concerns around physical safety and meeting parents expectations for having children clean and physically safe. These concerns can be discussed and solutions found to meet everyone’s needs.

  31. Andrea Preissl

    Even though I work at an outdoor daycare we still have parents who “tolerate” but are not impressed when their child goes home dirty or even small scrapes or bruises from when they were taking a risk. Although the parents know the benefits of risky play they still struggle with the letting go of the possibility of their child getting hurt even if it means they are benefiting from it.

  32. Kathy Barnhart

    So much of a child care program’s success depends on the tone, role modelling, and effort put in by the leaders. I think this is the most significant “insurance policy” for parents who are concerned about their children’s safety.

  33. Nadira Ramnauth

    In my centre we have a washer and dryer to wash and dry the children’s clothing when they get messy. We also ask families to bring in extra clothing for their children. The families in my centre know that we have to use a code to get inside the building. We also have a camera to make sure we know who is at the door. Only staff have access to the code. Staff are always kind and caring to the children. We always remind the children that we are here to help them feel safe and secure. If a child is hurt, we write a report for the parents, give them a call and let them know about the incident.

  34. Joanne Falk

    We like to make sure that all family members are in agreement to risky play, we will tell them the benefits of it and why we allow their child to do so. At first, they are very hesitant but we make sure to make them feel comfortable and that staff are always around and watching. If a parent is just not comfortable with risky play, we ask why not, and see if there is something that we can all come to agree on and go from there.
    Children going home dirty is often a concern coming from parents especially when playing outside in the sand and dirt and then having to be put in the vehicle to go home, but we make sure to dust the child off as best we can, but if the child is wet, we will change them before sending them home.

  35. Erin Lihou

    Biggest thing I experienced is lack of clothing. If a parent doesn’t send the child to school with proper gear we are then limited to what we could do outside

  36. Nicole Morrell

    One thing I see all the time is parents concern around their children getting dirty. Many of the programs I work with are now buying a daycare set of muddy buddies so children can get as messy as they want and I think that’s a pretty amazing solution.

  37. Alphonsine Hategekimana

    We encourage parents to send in extra clothing for their children, and we communicate to families the importance of being safe, having fun, and enjoying themselves, as it is their time to explore the mud, run, and have fun with their friends despite the weather conditions.

  38. Janice Duncan

    I think that it is very important to have policies and procedures in place that inform parents and educators of the areas covered in the lesson: safety, leadership, first aid, accidents, safety procedures and children’s clothing. Reviewing the policies and procedures a couple times a year and including them in parent and educator orientation packages, I think can help parents and educators feel safe.

  39. Laura Mcintosh

    There are parents who would prefer for their children to not get dirty and this is hard to avoid in many situations. Having additional clothing packed in their bags makes this an easier situation to deal with rather then parents picking up and their child is full of dirt.

  40. Madison Reimer

    The biggest one I have heard talked about in my centre, is getting dirty. Lucky for us, a lot of our families don’t mind the children getting dirty. I have heard in the past it has been more of a concern with the educators who don’t want to get dirty or deal with the children being messy. I have seen the new and exciting opportunities that children get to experience when they can get messy. As well, how it mentions in here, it is important if you have that time to clean the children’s clothes if they get dirty, the families really appreciate this.

  41. Kathryn Armstrong

    The one I hear the most is the concern over children getting dirty. I often hear caregivers limiting what the children can do because the parents will be upset if the child goes home with dirty clothes. Whenever a parent has expressed concern over the actual safety of an activity I find it is easier to address the safety concern with good information.

  42. Stephanie Vieira

    I’ve seen all of these three aspects happen before. Some parents don’t like it and others don’t mind it. It’s all on how you talk to the parents and see how comfortable they are with it.

  43. Ai Paul

    I believe educators, families and communities all need to have discussions about what our priorities for raising children together.

  44. Kamaldeep Sidhu

    This is not a concern at our centre.our families are supportive and most parents send extra clothes for their children and parents know very well that their children will get dirty while playing indoor/outdoor.

  45. Deborah Fehr

    Having extra clothing for various weather conditions is essential in all centres. At time of registration, parents are aware of the need for outdoor play and appropriate clothing including that children will get wet and dirty. Paint shirts and mudders help, but do not eliminate wet and dirty. Parents who are aware and onside are valuable assets to the program. Information in the parent handbook is essential.

  46. Lorraine Kok

    We have spare clothes for our children, they don’t always come back but it is no big deal.

  47. Carrie Maclellan 

    This isn’t a huge concern at our centre. Our families are pretty forgiving, we also have spare clothes and a washer and dryer if needed for the children’s’ belongings

  48. Heather Howard

    Engaging in conversation with parents, providing resources and photos/learning stories and inviting them to join in some risky play with their child may help to ease any apprehension parents may feel. Many times it is more than just reviewing a policy.

  49. Carli Olson

    We remind our families that children will often go home with stains and that shows the fun that was had! We do have extra clothing for children, and a washer and dryer we utilize during nap time to ensure they have clean clothes always!

  50. Patricia Lynch-Staunton

    Many families have the three concerns as indicated in the diagram above. These can usually be alieviated through conversation and documentation about the benefits of their child’s play. Also, coming to agreement about how families handle minor injuries reminds families that minor injuries are a part of childhood and can happen anywhere; it alleviates the blame perspective that the educator was not doing her job. Some educators worry about this.
    Cultural perspectives can also influence a family’s response to risk-taking by children.

  51. Alison Rinas

    I believe that when guideline, procedures and policies and information sharing with families around risky and how your center has gone to all measures to ensure that the highest amount of risky is taken into consideration, this will allow the families and educators to feel more comfortable in trusting the program and their children to engage and offer these experience in a program.

  52. Daniela Rodriguez

    I believe this is a great summary of the role educators should have and how they should be involved in the outdoors while teaching. It’s a great list to follow and find the right balance for both children and early learning teachers.

  53. Randi Robertson

    I think that if you tell all your students to bring an extra pair of clothes and leave them at the school then it doesn’t matter if they are getting dirty while playing outside because they can always come in and change!

  54. Kim Hoey

    I know some parents are concerned about getting dirty. We have had mud day at our centre. We gave parents lots of notice and to send extra clothes. Most of The kids….. loved it. Some didn’t want to get involved.

  55. Charmee Penner

    Children going home dirty is often a concern, letting families know what children are learning and discovering, showing photos of their child completely engaged and having fun also helps parents. If children are wet we often get them changed at the time they get picked up so it makes things a little easier for parents.

  56. Laurie Millions

    Some parents are concerned about their child getting really dirty all the time. We usually try to clean the child up before going home. Having a team of staff on board with safety and watching the children helps for a successful outdoor play space.

  57. Jessica Popp

    Ensuring all involved have a common perspective is critical to the success of risky play. I have worked with parents who worry about kids getting dirty and those who need the leadership to support and lead in terms of risk to create consistent messaging and implementation.

  58. Taylor Aichelberger

    I have witnessed al three of these aspects of family concerns both in parents and colleagues. I find that if the parents/adults/families and educators all have an agreed upon understanding that safe risky play is important, and families are aware of the benefits, then they are much more comfortable with and optimistic about their children taking safe risks.