Young children's opportunities for unstructured environmental exploration of nature: Links to adults' experiences in childhood

Shelby Gull Laird, Laura Piazza, Sydnye Allen

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Abstract

Outdoor environmental education and provision of unstructured exploration of nature are often forgotten aspects of the early childhood experience. The aim of this study was to understand how adults' early experiences in nature relate to their attitudes and practices in providing such experiences for young children. This study surveyed 33 parents and early childhood educators at an Australian university-located early childhood service about their own childhood experiences in nature and their current provision of such experiences with their children. Participants completed an online questionnaire consisting of the Nature Relatedness Scale ' Short Form (Nisbet et. al, 2009; Nisbet & Zelenski, 2013) and the Inclusion of Nature in Self Scale (Schultz, 2002). Questions regarding adults' knowledge and behaviour on gardening and sustainability topics were also included. Results indicate that although most participants were strongly engaged in unstructured nature experiences as children, few of them provided such experiences for their children. Implications for environmental education in early childhood settings and the home setting are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-73
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Early Childhood Environmental Education
Volume2
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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