8-2 | “We Don’t Allow Children to Climb Trees”


“We Don’t Allow Children to Climb Trees”
How a Focus on Safety Affects Norwegian Children’s Play in Early-Childhood Education and Care Settings

Ellen Beate Hansen Sandseter and Ole Johan Sando


The authors point out a basic contradiction: On one hand, we want to keep children as safe as possible; On the other, they suggest, learning to take risks is a normal part of childhood and child development. In Norway, research has shown that early-childhood education and care (ECEC) practitioners have, in the past, taken a permissive approach to children’s risk taking. In this article, the authors surveys ECEC managers to explore how the increasing focus on safety in Norwegian society affects ECEC programs. They find the previously more relaxed attitudes regarding risky play among children to be changing in such settings. They describe restrictions recently introduced into everyday program activities, and they discuss the implications both for ECEC pedagogy and for children’s play, learning, and development. Key words: early-childhood education and care (ECEC); play and safety; play in Norwegian preschools; risk taking and play