Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.
Reaching the Youngest Learners
EE for Early Childhood
Renee Strnad
Environmental Educator, Extension Forestry
Department o...
What is environmental education?
The goal of environmental education (EE) is to “develop a
world population that is aware ...
What is environmental education?
• Systems: Children live in and learn about systems.
• Interdependence: People are connec...
What is EE for early childhood?
• Helps develop a sense of wonder
• Appreciate beauty and mystery of the natural world
• E...
What is EE for early childhood?
• Less about organization and graduated achievements
• More about free discovery
– Persona...
Need for EE
• In 2004, American children spent less than half as
much time outdoors as their parents
• Kids are reported t...
Need for EE
• Reduced contact with nature
leading to increases in
ADHD
• Correlation with rises in
childhood obesity
• Neg...
Need for EE
“Within just one generation, the definition of ‘play’ has changed
dramatically among children in industrialize...
Benefits of EE
• Physical activity is shown to improve children’s health,
and a growing body of evidence suggests that exp...
Other Benefits: Cognitive
• Increased Focus/Improved Cognition:
Proximity to nature, access to views
of nature, and daily ...
Other Benefits: Emotional & Social
• Taylor and her colleagues found that children with
attention-deficit disorder (ADD) b...
Other Benefits: Health & Nutrition
• At the school environment level, researchers observed
that children who experience sc...
Other Benefits: Health & Nutrition
• Physical benefits of
children being active in
nature
• Large/small muscle
development...
Other Benefits: Attitudes
• EE experiences in the early years play a critical role in
shaping life-long attitudes, values,...
What are the characteristics of good EE
for early childhood education (ECE)?
• Developmentally
appropriate
• Cultivate pro...
What are the characteristics of
good EE for ECE?
• Guidelines for Excellence
from the North American
Association for
Envir...
Guidelines acknowledge that…
• Learning is more than a cognitive process
• Emotions play a particularly important role
• E...
Guidelines acknowledge that…
Therefore….
• Early childhood educators should provide opportunities
for children to experien...
How to read the guidelines
Key Characteristic
Guideline (1.1, 1.2, ect)
What to look for
Indicators
Guidelines Exploration
Other things I have learned…
• Not activities, but learning experiences
– Group Experiences
- Music and Movement
- Branchi...
Philosophy and Methods
• Go Outside Often!
• Involve the use of all senses
• Begin with simple
experiences
• Let students ...
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5
×

Reaching the Youngest Learners (NCASWCD)

163 views

Published on

Presentation for the NC Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts regarding environmental education for young children (ages 2-7)

Published in: Education
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

Reaching the Youngest Learners (NCASWCD)

  1. 1. Reaching the Youngest Learners EE for Early Childhood Renee Strnad Environmental Educator, Extension Forestry Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources College of Natural Resources North Carolina State University renee_strnad@ncsu.edu 919-515-5518 www.plt.ces.ncsu.edu www.plt.org
  2. 2. What is environmental education? The goal of environmental education (EE) is to “develop a world population that is aware of, and concerned about, the environment and its associated problems, and which has the knowledge, skills, attitude, motivations, and commitment to work individually and collectively toward solutions of current problems and the prevention of new ones”. BASICALLY - - develop an environmentally literate citizenry that understands environmental issues and how human decisions affect environmental quality.
  3. 3. What is environmental education? • Systems: Children live in and learn about systems. • Interdependence: People are connected to each other and to nature. • The importance of where one lives: Nature is local, whether it is a backyard, vacant lot, park, or nature center. • Integration and Infusion: Environmental education does not have to be a separate activity or “subject,” and is best integrated with experiences in a variety of curricular areas. • Roots in the real world: Direct experience with authentic materials is a hallmark of environmental education. • Lifelong learning: Inspiring curiosity about the world, creative thinking and problem solving, and collaborative learning build strong foundation for lifelong learning.
  4. 4. What is EE for early childhood? • Helps develop a sense of wonder • Appreciate beauty and mystery of the natural world • Experience a closeness to nature • Respect for the environment and other creatures Also…. • Develops problem-solving skills • Develops an interest and appreciation in the world around us
  5. 5. What is EE for early childhood? • Less about organization and graduated achievements • More about free discovery – Personal Perceptions – Attitudes – Connections Some might also call this p-l-a-y!
  6. 6. Need for EE • In 2004, American children spent less than half as much time outdoors as their parents • Kids are reported to spend 7 ½ hours per day on electronic equipment during their free time This is up from 6 ½ hours in Kaiser’s 2005 report • Another longitudinal study found that children under 13 living in the United States spend on average only about half an hour of unstructured time outdoors each week (Hofferth & Sadberg, 2001)
  7. 7. Need for EE • Reduced contact with nature leading to increases in ADHD • Correlation with rises in childhood obesity • Negative impacts on cognitive and conceptual development • Makes compelling case for children to spend more time outdoors in structured and unstructured settings
  8. 8. Need for EE “Within just one generation, the definition of ‘play’ has changed dramatically among children in industrialized countries.” Dr. Ruth A. Etzel, 2010 The sedentary lifestyle of our nation’s children is linked to: • Childhood obesity • Diabetes • Cardiovascular disease • Increased childhood asthma • Sleep apnea • Vitamin D deficiency • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) • Depression (McCurdy, et al, 2010)
  9. 9. Benefits of EE • Physical activity is shown to improve children’s health, and a growing body of evidence suggests that exposure to natural environments can improve attention & decrease stress in children. • Advising outdoor play in nature is a practical method for pediatric health care providers to address chronic conditions such as childhood obesity, as well as mental health; and one that is cost-effective & easily sustainable. (McCurdy et. al, 2010)
  10. 10. Other Benefits: Cognitive • Increased Focus/Improved Cognition: Proximity to nature, access to views of nature, and daily exposure to natural settings increases the ability of children to focus and improves cognitive abilities. (Wells, 2000) • After play in a green/natural setting, students that suffer from ADD • Are more able to concentrate • Complete tasks • Follow directions (Taylor, A.F., Kuo, F.E., Sullivan, W.C. 2001)
  11. 11. Other Benefits: Emotional & Social • Taylor and her colleagues found that children with attention-deficit disorder (ADD) benefited from more exposure to nature –the greener a child’s everyday environment, the more manageable are the symptoms of ADD. (Taylor, 2001) • Taylor also observed that access to green spaces for learning and play, and even having views of green settings, enhances peace, self-control, and self- discipline among inner-city youth, especially among girls.
  12. 12. Other Benefits: Health & Nutrition • At the school environment level, researchers observed that children who experience school grounds or play areas with diverse natural settings are more physically active, more aware of good nutrition, more creative, and more civil to one another. (Bell & Dyment, 2006)
  13. 13. Other Benefits: Health & Nutrition • Physical benefits of children being active in nature • Large/small muscle development • Lower weight • Healthier numbers for blood pressure, cholesterol, and insulin • Increase in serotonins (“good mood” chemicals)
  14. 14. Other Benefits: Attitudes • EE experiences in the early years play a critical role in shaping life-long attitudes, values, and patterns of behavior toward natural environments • Time spent indoors (at home and school) as well as traveling in vehicles versus walking are high risk factors for young children never developing positive feelings and attitudes towards the natural environment – Therefore, decreased environmental literacy competency • As natural resource professionals, we seek attitude change, which lead to behavior change
  15. 15. What are the characteristics of good EE for early childhood education (ECE)? • Developmentally appropriate • Cultivate problem-solving skills • Builds early literacy, artistic expressions, and aesthetic appreciation • Foster authentic experiences to explore, investigate and appreciate. • Planned with the whole child and every child • Addresses a variety of learning styles, capabilities, and culture
  16. 16. What are the characteristics of good EE for ECE? • Guidelines for Excellence from the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) • Early Childhood EE Programs • Six Key Characteristics • For birth to 8 year olds, with focus on ages 3-6
  17. 17. Guidelines acknowledge that… • Learning is more than a cognitive process • Emotions play a particularly important role • Environmental education often begins close to home, encouraging learners to understand and forge connections with their immediate surroundings.
  18. 18. Guidelines acknowledge that… Therefore…. • Early childhood educators should provide opportunities for children to experience peace, joy, and fascination with nature because these emotions undergird the developing knowledge, skills, and dispositions. • The environmental awareness, knowledge, and skills needed for localized learning provide a foundation for moving out into larger systems, broader issues, and a more sophisticated comprehension of causes, connections, and consequences. (Harlan & Rivkin, 2008)
  19. 19. How to read the guidelines Key Characteristic Guideline (1.1, 1.2, ect) What to look for Indicators
  20. 20. Guidelines Exploration
  21. 21. Other things I have learned… • Not activities, but learning experiences – Group Experiences - Music and Movement - Branching Out with Books - Snacks - Neighborhood Nature Walks – Learning Centers - Art - Outdoor Explorers - Discovery Table - Math and Manipulatives - Dramatic Play • Take homes to continue learning • Literacy connections are essential (reading, building vocabulary) • Young children can begin writing skills • Early childhood classrooms are very different from the typical k-12 classroom
  22. 22. Philosophy and Methods • Go Outside Often! • Involve the use of all senses • Begin with simple experiences • Let students use their imagination • Provide choices whenever possible • Emphasize the experience not the facts • Integrate music and movement, art, and literature • Keep children actively involved; they learn from play • Engage parents to continue learning activities at home

×