Kassandra Sqrow, Weber State University
Opportunities for children to interact and connect to the natural environment through play are declining. The benefits of outdoor play are well documented (Little and Wyver, 2008) and show the important role it contributes to healthy child development. Yet, fears and anxieties parents have about the outdoor environment are the most potent forces that prevent parents from allowing their children to play outdoors (Furedi, 2002; Louv, 2006). Identifying the beliefs and attitudes parents have about outdoor-based play can provide valuable insights for recreation and youth professionals to understand how to encourage outdoor play in families. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to explore parents’ perceptions on factors that constrain or facilitate the level of outdoor play that they encourage in their children. Parents with children ages 4 to 10 years old were recruited through a local school to participate in focus groups. Research participants were asked about their perceptive on the role outdoor-play has on their child’s development and characteristics of outdoor play spaces that influence the level of outdoor play their children engage in. Data will be analyzed by identifying recurring themes and patterns of parents’ perceptions and factors that influence the level of outdoor-based play in their child’s life. The data for this study is currently being collected and will be analyzed by November 2014. Implications for practice will be discussed.