Term

Spring 4-9-2015

Capstone

Thesis

Degree Name

MAED: NSEE

Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Renee Wonser

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Chuck Bennett

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Katy Burns

Abstract

The research question addressed is, how does environmental education and nature play in child care settings benefit children? A key influence was the author’s interest in providing stimulating environmental education for her young daughter and evaluating the environmental programs of local child care providers and the perceived benefits for children. Six child care centers of differing teaching philosophies were the focus of the study with each completing a 28 question survey about the environmental activities and sustainability programs in place at their facilities and the early childhood development traits observed in the children. Results from the study showed that child care centers provide sufficient time for children to engage in outdoor play and that they also conduct frequent indoor environmentally-themed activities. The centers report that environmental education and nature play provide many physical, social, and mental benefits to children. Many of the centers also embrace sustainability practices within their operations.

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