Characteristics of staff-child interaction in 1-3-year-olds' risky play in early childhood education and care

Kleppe, R.
Early Child Development and Care, 188(10):1487-1501.


The study investigates whether the concept of scaffolding can be used to describe staff-child interaction patterns in 1-3-year-olds’ risky play in kindergarten. The purpose of the study is twofold: (1) to investigate the relevance of the concept of scaffolding in relation to staff-child interaction and risky play, and (2) to investigate staff-child interaction patterns in connection with risky play.


The results indicate that scaffolding is a relevant theoretical concept for describing high-quality staff-child interactions, leading to increased opportunities for developmental stimulation. Of the 171 cases of risky play where pedagogical staff members were present, they did not respond in 70 of the cases (41%). Staff-child interaction that was directly associated with risky play occurred in the remaining 101 cases. Of these 101 cases, ‘scaffolding’ interaction and ‘non-scaffolding’ interaction were observed in 78% and 22% of cases, respectively.


In total, five kindergartens participated in the study. The sample consisted of 53 children between the ages of one and three, as well as 21 pedagogical staff members, 15 women and six men. The children consisted of 28 boys and 26 girls (26 one-year-olds, 20 two-year-olds and seven three-year-olds). The groups of 1-3-year-olds were observed for ten days (198 cases of risky play). The kindergartens were chosen from among the kindergartens participating in the BePro research project (Better provision for Norway’s children in ECEC). Two of the kindergartens were selected based on their respective ITERS-R scores (toddler’s physical environment). For potential contrast effects, one kindergarten was selected from among the highest-scoring kindergartens and one kindergarten from among the lowest-scoring kindergartens. In addition, two nature/outdoor kindergartens were selected based on previous research stating that there was a greater chance of obtaining relevant observations outdoors. Finally, a kindergarten department with only one-year-olds was chosen in order to get more detailed observations of this specific age group. Data was mainly collected using ethnographic methods, i.e. the researcher took part in the children’s everyday kindergarten life but only made recordings of selected aspects or phenomena. The observations were divided into two main criteria: subjective and objective risk in a given situation.


Kleppe, R. (2018). "Characteristics of staff-child interaction in 1-3-year-olds' risky play in early childhood education and care". Early Child Development and Care, 188(10):1487-1501.

Financed by

The Research Council of Norway, Norway; Kanvas Foundation, Norway