Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Child and Family Studies

Major Professor

Mary Jane Moran

Committee Members

Dawn P. Coe, Julia Jaekel, Robyn Brookshire


This qualitative study explored the understandings, definitions, and influences of three toddler teachers and four toddler parents within the context of risky play in toddlerhood at a Southeastern land-grant university early childhood laboratory school. Sociocultural and bioecological theories informed the study and the developmental niche conceptual framework guided the organization of data analysis. Video stimulated recall interviews were the primary data source. Data were analyzed using the constant comparative method to ensure triangulation of data. Findings include: (1) analyzing risky play is comprised of (a) the psychology of the caregiver, (b) knowing the child, and (c) cultural influences, (2) risky play happens outdoors, and (3) risky play is contextual. This study contributes important knowledge to the field of early childhood education by offering a new perspective regarding the definition of risky play and reveals how deeply situated parents’ and teachers’ perceptions of risky play are in their own personal past experiences, knowledges, and interactions. In essence, an attempt to further investigate parents’ and teachers’ personal meanings and understandings of risky play was made. Implications for future research and practice include the investigation of toddler teachers’ and parents’ perceptions of risky play in order to delve more deeply into the individualism of risky play definitions, as well as the use of new methodologies to ensure the incorporation of participants’ histories, experiences, knowledges and confrontations with risky play scenarios to illuminate definitions and the evolution of individuals’ meaning making.

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