Young children’s ideas about environment: perspectives from three early childhood educational settings
- article in the current issue
Lauren Madden & Jennifer Liang
Pages: 1055-1071 | DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2016.1236185
Many efforts have been made around the globe to advocate for and encourage environmental sustainability education (ESE). As many as 15 fields can serve as ‘currents’ on the greater field of environmental education, including environmental education and education for sustainability. We acknowledge that each is a separate and distinct field of inquiry, but choose not to limit our perspective to any one field or the other. Thus, we have elected to use the term ESE to refer to work that falls into any or all of these categories throughout this manuscript for learners of all ages. Yet, there is a dearth of information at the early childhood level, defined as toddlers through eight-year-olds. Our exploratory study focused on better describing young children’s understandings of ESE. Young children (ages three-eight) from three different suburban early childhood education settings (public school pre-kindergarten, church-based cooperative preschool, and private daycare center) participated in focus group interviews before and one week after a brief ESE learning activity. Findings revealed that children were able to describe nature in more sophisticated ways after the intervention than before, suggesting that learning in early childhood ESE is possible and fruitful.
Keywords: Early childhood, environmental education, conceptions