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Guimarães Gabriel, Amanda, 2021. Connecting to nature in pre-school : a study of place experiences in a low-social economic area related to children´s development. Second cycle, A2E. Alnarp: SLU, Dept. of People and Society



Outdoor environments and nature could positively support pre-school children living in lowsocial economic urban environments. By valuing the role of lived experiences, this research explores
how outdoor places and nature could support and counteract the widespread inequities that affect
these children. While the literature has evidence for the role of nature in children´s development and
positive senses of place, it has been argued for the need for studies in different economic and
cultural backgrounds, which is addressed by this thesis. The study is a participative, child-centered,
empirical, qualitative study that investigates the role of distinct environments in children's agency to
use, play and learn and concurrently develop senses of place. Experiences of a group of pre-school
children's outdoor environments during pre-school days are explored while assuming the dynamic
interrelationship of the physical, social, and organizational characteristics of everyday life related to
children's development. The departure is taken in the socioecological framework for human
development by Bronfenbrenner, Stokols; Sense of place by Relph and Place-relations literature. This
research explores how children attending a pre-school located in a low-social economic area in the
south of Sweden create meaning and experience places in their everyday lives, including their
schoolyard, their local neighborhood, and occasional excursions to the Landscape Laboratory in SLU
Alnarp. This inquiry draws on ethnographic methods: participant observation with fieldnotes,
photographs, and workshops in which children would draw favorite places, including informal
conversations and a walking interview with children and informal conversations with the school's
pedagogues. Following children outdoors on many occasions during autumn 2020 revealed aspects
of the environment connected to their use of places. The inductive, qualitative analysis suggested
the importance of access to suitable outdoor environments containing nature, giving children the
opportunity for free play and adult support in children's development of place meaning. The results
explore the underpinned value of outdoor environments and nature whilst relating to the value of
the cultivation of positive place relationships in childhood. The result highlighted how natural
environments in the schoolyard related to children's agency during active play, social interactions,
and self-learning activities. Regular visits to a site with a natural environment with a larger abundance
of affordances facilitating usage and play seemed to make an imprint on their play in their schoolyard,
with a larger and more creative usage of place. Regular walks in their local neighborhood also
supported children's agency to create positive place relations to their local environments. In the
results section, a "narrative map" illustrates places in terms of children's meaning-making
experiences. A thematic result explored how outdoor environments became places related to
children's learning experiences. The discussion suggests implications for environmental planning,
pedagogical practices, and organizational efforts to counteract the negative environmental impacts
on pre-school children living in low-social economical areas and could be applied in pre-school
children in all contexts, supporting their development and learning.

Main title:Connecting to nature in pre-school
Subtitle:a study of place experiences in a low-social economic area related to children´s development
Authors:Guimarães Gabriel, Amanda
Supervisor:Mårtensson, Fredrika and Litsmark, Anna
Examiner:von Essen, Elisabeth
Volume/Sequential designation:UNSPECIFIED
Year of Publication:2021
Level and depth descriptor:Second cycle, A2E
Student's programme affiliation:LM007 Outdoor environments for health and well-being - Master's programme 120 HEC
Supervising department:(LTJ, LTV) > Dept. of People and Society
Keywords:childhood place relations, sense of place in childhood, sense of place in childhood, children's development, outdoor place relations, nature and children's development, learning, low-social economic environments, vulnerable environments, narrative map
Permanent URL:
Subject. Use of subject categories until 2023-04-30.:Landscape architecture
Deposited On:15 Apr 2021 08:42
Metadata Last Modified:16 Apr 2021 01:00

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