Risky play and the outdoors


By Helen Little

Children thrive on risky play. They are naturally drawn to activities that challenge them and extend their skills. These days, unfortunately, children don’t have much access to outdoor play, and a general aversion to risk is limiting their engagement in experiences that take them out of their comfort zone.
Early learning settings are well placed to provide children with diverse opportunities for engagement in challenging physical play that invites them to take considered risks, and supports their learning and development.



This Everyday Learning Series title explores:

  • the characteristics and benefits of risky play
  • environments that encourage children’s positive risk-taking in play
  • ways to manage children’s risk-taking in play
  • how educators can help children gradually take responsibility for their own safety.

The book also outlines the benefits of risky play for children’s development and learning, and provides educators with knowledge and ideas about supporting children’s risky play while managing safety.

About the Everyday Learning Series:

Early Childhood Australia’s Everyday Learning Series acknowledges that the most important early learning happens through day-to-day life experiences and provides ideas and strategies on ways educators and families can make the most of these experiences to support children’s development. By ‘making the ordinary, extraordinary’, the Everyday Learning Series is an invaluable resource for educators, students of early education, beginning practitioners, and families by assisting them in maximising young children’s play, exploration and discovery, and development within learning environments.

Subscribe to the Everyday Learning Series:

The Everyday Learning Series (EDL) is a 12 month, four-issue subscription. Subscribers also receive bonus online resources which may be shared with educators and families. Learn more here. 

ECA offers libraries and institutions a perpetual access fee. Please contact ECA directly on 1800 356 900 (free call) to obtain the licensing agreement or to order.

Additional information

Weight 0.1 kg
Dimensions 17.3 × 24.5 cm



Paperback, e-version

About the author

Dr Helen Little is a Senior Lecturer of Early Childhood Education in the Department of Educational Studies, Macquarie University, where she teaches units on child development, outdoor learning and professional experience. Prior to this, she was an early childhood teacher with experience teaching in preschools and primary schools in Sydney. Her research examines individual, social and environmental factors that influence children’s risk-taking behaviour in outdoor play. Helen’s current work is focused on how the physical features of the outdoor environment and teaching practices impact children’s experiences of risk-taking in play. She is an acknowledged author and her most recent publication, Outdoor learning environments: Spaces for exploration, discovery and risk-taking in the early years, provides an Australian perspective on outdoor learning. Helen is also currently the Early Childhood Australia representative on the Standards Australia Committee for Playgrounds and Play Equipment.

Year published