Early Childhood Outside (ECO)

A Study to Develop an Educational App for Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) Educators and Administrators


Outdoor play, and the risk-taking that comes with it, is crucial for children’s healthy development.  Early learning and child care (ELCC) centres are important venues for outdoor play. Educators and administrators can struggle to provide outdoor play time. Reasons can include limited understanding of why it is important, safety fears, and liability concerns. This study aimed to develop an educational app, incorporating the latest evidence and behaviour change techniques. We conducted 5 focus group interviews with 40 early childhood educators in Metro Vancouver to learn key issues, needs and challenges that required support.

The app, freely available at https://OutsidePlay.ca, gives support on risky play, risk management, and guides development of a plan for changing practice. Outdoor play, and the inherent risk-taking that comes with it, is crucial for children’s healthy development.

Funding information

Generously supported by the Government of Canada Early Learning – under the Social Development Partnerships program [link]



Cheng, T., Brussoni, M., Han, C.S., Munday, F., & Zeni, M. (2022). Perceived challenges of early childhood educators in promoting unstructured outdoor play: an ecological systems perspective. Early Years: An International Research Journal. DOI: 10.1080/09575146.2022.2034140 [link]  

Munday, F., Zeni, M., Han, C., Cheng, T., & Brussoni, M (2019). A digital risk-reframing tool to shift early childhood educators’ perceptions of outdoor play: Intervention mapping approach. A poster presented at the Big Difference BC conference. (PDF).

Cheng, T., Munday, F., Zeni, M., Han, C., & Brussoni, M (2019). Challenges early childhood educators face in promoting outdoor play – A qualitative study. A poster presented at the UBC Life Science Research Night. (PDF)link