Exploring toddlers' rituals of 'belonging' through risky play in the outdoor environment

Helen Little, Matthew Stapleton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The notion of ‘belonging’ is a core component of many early childhood curriculum frameworks and recognises the importance of children’s sociocultural context for their self-identity and well-being. Children’s risk-taking in play has also been the focus of contemporary research in examining its beneficial role for children’s physical, social and emotional development. This study applies diverse disciplinary and theoretical lenses, including Hedegaard’s cultural-historical model and Gibson’s affordance theory, to present a critical and multi-perspective understanding of children’s experience of ‘belonging’ and risky play. The study involved naturalistic observations of 18–26-month-old children’s outdoor play in an environment designed to provide affordances for risky play. The findings suggest that children’s engagement in risky play also supports their sense of belonging through their shared engagement in risky-play experiences
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalContemporary Issues in Early Childhood
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Jan 2021


  • belonging
  • early childhood education
  • outdoor environments
  • risky play
  • toddlers


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