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Affordances for Risk-Taking and Physical Activity in Australian Early Childhood Education Settings

Abstract

Motor competence and physical activity (PA) patterns are established during the early childhood years. Early childhood education (ECE) settings are an important context for children’s engagement in physically active play. This paper reports the findings from an online survey examining resources, spaces and affordances for PA and risk-taking in outdoor play provision at 245 ECE centres across Australia. Centres were generally well resourced to promote physical play and provide a diverse range of experiences that support PA and motor development, although varied in terms of opportunities for risk-taking in play. Most respondents believed the environment at their centres supported children’s engagement in moderate to vigorous PA, however, regulatory restrictions relating to recommended height limits on climbing apparatus and having insufficient space were identified as factors limiting opportunities for challenging, physically active play. Outdoor space and teacher support are identified as important factors in childhood settings to promote PA and risk-taking. The emphasis on outdoor environments as a mediator of physically active play should be beneficial in directing limited resources to the provision of environments that are most likely to produce positive PA outcomes.

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Correspondence to Helen Little.

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Little, H., Sweller, N. Affordances for Risk-Taking and Physical Activity in Australian Early Childhood Education Settings. Early Childhood Educ J 43, 337–345 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10643-014-0667-0

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Keywords

  • Affordances
  • Child care
  • Physical activity
  • Risk-taking
  • Outdoor play