Why children's risky play is worth the risk 


When: Monday, December 7th│15:30 - 17:30 CET




Children are spontaneously seeking challenges in everyday life. They tend to try things that are slightly more difficult than those they master. There are risks involved in this exploratory nature. ECEC professionals are often struggling with two seemingly contradictory demands of their profession: to keep children safe and to encourage them to explore.  

The classical training for ECEC professionals teaches them how to make the environment as safe as possible for children. As a result, they often unintentionally limit rich play opportunities for children. Thereby ECEC professionals might overlook the added value of risk-taking in play: children can overcome fear, gain self-confidence, and - above all - become more risk competent.   

After several years of practice-based research and influencing policymaking on 0-6-year-old's risky play, our RePLAY-team of Artevelde University of Applied Sciences wants to share its insights and tools with other ISSA members. We are curious about the way you(r country) feel(s) about young children’s risky play and how your policy and practice either encourages or complicates risky play opportunities.   

Experience your boundaries, look inside a Flemish childcare centre, and share your thoughts on risky play during this interactive session. You are welcome to participate ‘at your own risk’! 




Helena Sienaert – Researcher, lecturer, promoter of research and lifelong learning about risky play at Artevelde University of Applied Sciences - Bachelor of Early Childhood Education 

Helena Sienaert completed her Master of Science in Educational Sciences - Clinical Special Needs Education and Disability Studies in 2009. Since 2011 she is working as a researcher and a lecturer at the Bachelor of Early Childhood Education at Artevelde University of Applied Sciences. She teaches, among other things, about supporting young children’s free play in childcare. For several years, Helena has been sharing her passion for #riskyplay with diverse working fields and policymakers through the RePLAY research projects. 


Veerle De Vliegher – staff member at Opgroeien

I work for Kind en Gezin (Child and Family), which is now part of the government organisation Opgroeien (Growing up). This agency wants to create as many opportunities as possible for all children and young people, including their families, who grow up in Flanders and Brussels.  

One of our objectives is high quality childcare for every child in Flanders and Brussels. We do this, not by organizing childcare ourselves, but by permitting, supporting and financing childcare organisations. As an interior architect I started working for Kind en Gezin 16 years ago. I'm mainly working on themes related to infrastructure and safety. We were inspired by the principles of Risky Play to rethink our policy on safety and adapt our advice to childcare and parents.


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