A misguided health and safety culture is threatening to render children's play meaningless, early childhood providers are to be warned.

The United Kingdom-based founder of Outdoor Play and Learning (Opal), Michael Follett, says a "policy of fear" has reshaped play to the extent that children are losing out on vital learning.

"You are taking away their ability to learn through primary, first-hand experience, which is how children actually learn.

"They need to fall over, they need to cut themselves, have bumps and bruises.

"If you over-protect, they don't learn resilience."