About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 2555-2562
Publication year: 2019
ISBN: 978-84-09-14755-7
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2019.0672

Conference name: 12th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 11-13 November, 2019
Location: Seville, Spain

ACTIVITIES IN NATURE: HOW FREQUENT IS THE CONTACT OF CONTEMPORARY CHILDREN WITH THE NATURAL WORLD?

A. Almeida1, V. Rato2, Z.F. Dabaja3

1IInstituto Politécnico de Lisboa (IPL), CICS.NOVA (PORTUGAL)
2Centro Indisciplinar de Estudo Educacionais, ESELx (PORTUGAL)
3Master of Education, Freelance Researcher (LEBANON)
The progressive process of industrialization that has been occurring in the world in the last 200 years has increased the urban population. Nowadays, about 55% of the world’s population lives in urban areas. This figure is expected to increase to 68% by 2050 (United Nations, 2018). One consequence of this trend has been the progressive nature withdrawal, which affect children’s development. In fact, Kellert (2002) states that the cognitive, affective and evaluative (values related) development of children could be improved by the contact with natural settings, which promote exploration, discovery and imagination. This is also achieved with the quality of activities implemented in different types of green spaces: wild or more humanized settings, like parks and gardens.

This study aimed to check the frequency of several activities in a group of 153 urban children, 87 boys and 70 girls, from 6 state schools with different social backgrounds (low to high socio-economic status) from the Lisbon area. To achieve this, a questionnaire was administered containing demographic-related items, such as gender, age and school, and 11 statements related to different outdoor activities. Children had to select the frequency of their performing of each activity according to a four-point scale: never (1 point), rarely (2), sometimes (3), often (4). A total score was then calculated for each child, ranging from 11 to 44 points.

The questionnaire items were adapted from those used in Bixter, Floyd, and Hammitt (2002) and also included a few activities mentioned by Louv (2010) that were common in previous generations. The activities were: picking up wild fruits; gardening; climbing trees; catching birds in traps; collecting rocks, minerals and fossils; tracking; visiting farms, zoos and other thematic parks; practising outdoor sports; playing in forested areas; going hunting or fishing with friends and relatives; rappelling and other extreme sports. Since data obey to a non-normal distribution, both for each statement and for the total scored, a Mann Whitney test was applied to compare gender scores.

The results show that almost all activities have never or rarely been done by the participants, and only outdoor sports are practised more often (sometimes). Boys and girls statistical significant differences were only for outdoor sports and for hunting and fishing activity, favouring boys, but all activities had a very low frequency in both genders.

The present study confirmed the trend presented initially and has several implications for parents, teachers and policy makers. It seems that our children are refraining from performing a myriad of activities common in previous generations, which allow contact with nature. This is clearly an impoverishment of children’s development and, as Pyle (2002) suggested, environmental education programs, in a more adventurous ground, should be improved. According to the latter author, even certain activities that have a (small) negative impact on nature, like trapping birds, seem to be important to the development of a connection with nature. Another recommendation is the need to fight “the criminalization of Natural Play”, a term used by Louv (2010). In fact, nowadays “everything” is forbidden either by law or in the minds of some adults, like to step grass, to climb trees, to play in the dirt… Therefore, we need to strengthen outdoor playing and learning to establish a stronger connection between children and nature.
@InProceedings{ALMEIDA2019ACT,
author = {Almeida, A. and Rato, V. and Dabaja, Z.F.},
title = {ACTIVITIES IN NATURE: HOW FREQUENT IS THE CONTACT OF CONTEMPORARY CHILDREN WITH THE NATURAL WORLD?},
series = {12th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2019 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-09-14755-7},
issn = {2340-1095},
doi = {10.21125/iceri.2019.0672},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.21125/iceri.2019.0672},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Seville, Spain},
month = {11-13 November, 2019},
year = {2019},
pages = {2555-2562}}
TY - CONF
AU - A. Almeida AU - V. Rato AU - Z.F. Dabaja
TI - ACTIVITIES IN NATURE: HOW FREQUENT IS THE CONTACT OF CONTEMPORARY CHILDREN WITH THE NATURAL WORLD?
SN - 978-84-09-14755-7/2340-1095
DO - 10.21125/iceri.2019.0672
PY - 2019
Y1 - 11-13 November, 2019
CI - Seville, Spain
JO - 12th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2019 Proceedings
SP - 2555
EP - 2562
ER -
A. Almeida, V. Rato, Z.F. Dabaja (2019) ACTIVITIES IN NATURE: HOW FREQUENT IS THE CONTACT OF CONTEMPORARY CHILDREN WITH THE NATURAL WORLD?, ICERI2019 Proceedings, pp. 2555-2562.
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