Authenticating children’s interest in nature

Date

2021-08-09

Authors

Jewell, Jesse

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Abstract

In this study, I investigated seven and eight-year-old children’s interest in the boreal forest in Yukon, Canada. This research attempts to provide insight on this topic by giving students autonomy over their movement in a diverse natural landscape, and by investigating where they go and what they do in a forest context. A mixed methodology approach was used to explore children’s interest in the boreal forest, and data were analyzed from the geospatial technology that was affixed to each child, and by inquiring about what the children enjoyed doing in the forest. Key findings from the study included: the importance of play as a primary means of interacting socially with the environment, children’s affiliation and fascination with living things as strong motivators for exploration, and the affordances the landscape offered the children, specifically loose parts (e.g., sticks, berries) and the diverse topography (e.g., hills for running, dense forest for hiding). Based on these findings, I contend that it is becoming increasingly important for educators, parents, and policy makers to understand the child-nature relationship and its relevance to young children.

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Keywords

Children and nature, Autonomy, Outdoor education, Inquiry, Place-based learning, Student voice

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