Young Childrens Play and Environmental Education in Early Childhood Education

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Studying about the loss of rainforests and endangered species may be perfectly appropriate starting in middle school, but is developmentally inappropriate for younger children. Regular positive interactions within nature allow children to feel comfortable in it, develop empathy with it and grow to love it. Not only are regular developmentally appropriate experiences in nature important, but also adults, both parents and teachers, need to model enjoyment of, comfort with and respect for nature. Recent research strongly suggests that the opportunity for children younger than age 11 to explore in wild, natural environments is especially important for developing their biophilic tendencies and that the type of play should be child-nature play, such as catching frogs in a creek or fireflies at night, versus only child-child play such as playing war games with walnuts.

Such informal exploration stimulates genuine interest in and valuing of environmental knowledge that is then provided in more structured environmental education programs. During early childhood, the main objective of environmental education should be the development of empathy between the child and the natural world. In addition to opportunities to explore and play in nature, one of the best ways to foster empathy with young children is to cultivate relationships to animals.

This includes exposure to indigenous animals, both real and imagined. Young children are implicitly drawn to animals and especially baby animals. Animals are an endless source of wonder for children, fostering a caring attitude and sense of responsibility towards living things.

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Children interact instinctively and naturally with animals, talk to them, and invest in them emotionally. Endangered species are not appropriate at this age. Developing an emotional connectedness—empathy—to the natural world is the essential foundation for the later stages of environmental education.

Forest kindergartens are now found in many other countries including Scotland, Scandinavia, Switzerland and Austria. Exploring the nearby world and learning your place in it should be the primary objective for this 'bonding with the earth' stage of environmental education.

Developmentally appropriate activities include creating small imaginary worlds, hunting and gathering, searching for treasures, following streams and pathways, exploring the landscape natural, not adult manicured landscapes , taking care of animals and gardening. Plants have substantial interest to children when they provide wildlife habitat.

Environmental Education for Early Childhood

Social action appropriately begins around age 12 and extends beyond age As children start to discover the 'self' of adolescence and feel their connectedness to society, they are naturally inclined toward wanting to save the world, assuming of course that they had the opportunities in their earlier years to develop empathy for and to explore the natural world.

Their opportunities for environmental preservation should be focused at the local level where children can relate to the outcomes rather than in some far-off unknown rainforest. The world once offered children the thousands of delights of the natural world. Children used to have free access to the outside world of wild nature, whether in the vacant lots and parks of urban areas or the fields, forests, streams of suburbia and rural areas.

Children could explore and interact with the natural world with little or no restrictions or supervision. The lives of children today are much more structured, supervised and scheduled with few opportunities to explore and interact with the natural outdoor environment.

Resources for Early Childhood Environmental Education

Childhood and regular unsupervised play in the outdoor natural world are no longer synonymous. Today, most children live what one play authority has referred to as a childhood of imprisonment. Children are disconnected from the natural world outside their doors. With developmentally appropriate natural outdoor environments and programs, schools can help our children develop to become responsible stewards of the earth.

To accomplish this, children need regular contact with natural environments that offer them opportunities for play and exploration, where they can explore and bond with nature, rather than the paradigm of recess on manufactured play equipment in a sterile or manicured landscape area. Rather than playgrounds, children need to be offered naturalized environments, the wilder the better, where they can interact with nature and the animals and insects that inhabit it. Children need to be given daily access to outdoor natural environments for extended periods of time.

Schools, early childhood educators and teachers need to free themselves from the paradigm of giving children indoor play and learning and manufactured outdoor playgrounds and instead allow children to reclaim the magic that is their birthright—the ability to play and learn outdoors through exploration, discovery and the power of their imaginations in intimate contact with nature.

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It is only through such positive experiences outdoors that children will develop their love of nature and a desire to protect it for their future and later generations. Berenguer, J. Bergen, D.


Play as a medium for learning and development. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. Washington, D. Bixler, Robert D. Bredencamp, S.

Developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood education. Bunting, T. Cousins Environmental dispositions among school-age children. Environment and Behavior , 17 6. Case, R. Monographs of the Society of Research in Child Developmnet, vol. Chicago:University of Chicago Press. Chawla, L. Learning to love the natural world enough to protect it. Barn, 2, Chipeniuk, Raymond C. Dutcher, D.

Dyson, A. Visions of children as language users: Language and language education in early childhood.

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  • The principles we identify are the result of research conducted with teachers and children using different types of play-based learning whilst engaged in environmental education. Such play-types connect with the historical use of play-based learning in early childhood education as a basis for pedagogy.

    Passar bra ihop. Neurological Physiotherapy Susan Edwards. Ladda ned. Recensioner i media. These experiences help children explore twigs, buds, and tree flowers while they celebrate the coming of spring. Tree species can be identified by looking at their bark, flowers, fruits, leaves, seeds, and twigs. Through these experiences, children will compare trees and decide which combination of features they like most.

    Trees are a lot like people—with limbs, trunks, and skin. Through these experiences, children make a tree costume and explore the parts of a tree.


    Young children's play and environmental education in early childhood education

    From their leafy branches to their tangled roots, trees provide habitats for a diverse variety of plants and animals. Each day trees provide many benefits for all people. Through these experiences, children will explore the many products and benefits that trees provide. Attend a training — either in person or online — to get Environmental Experiences for Early Childhood. Please remember that all PLT curriculum materials are protected under copyright law.

    Reproduce responsibly. Every month we carefully select new educational apps, videos, interactive websites, books, careers information, and teacher-generated materials that support PLT lessons. Earth Day is about raising awareness about the importance of protecting our planet and taking action.