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ERIC Number: EJ1108047
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 24
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: EISSN-2331-0464
A Sense of Autonomy in Young Children's Special Places
Green, Carie
International Journal of Early Childhood Environmental Education, v1 n1 p8-31 2013
Early childhood is a significant time when children begin to develop their place identity. As they discover their environment, young children claim special places in which to construct their own experiences. In exploring ways to connect children with place, particularly nature, caregivers need to consider children's place perspectives in the various settings of their lives. This research explored the question: how do young children experience special places in the home environment? Qualitative data were collected during two phases. The first consisted of book discussions and representational activities with 51 children at school. The second included special place tours and informal interviews with 12 children and parents in their homes. Analysis revealed four activities representing children's place experiences: playing, hiding, resting, and exploring. Children's descriptions and observed behaviors were categorized and quantified to demonstrate their range of place use. Through self-initiated activities, children gained a sense of spatial autonomy and control of their environment. This is important to the development of their place identity and environmental competency in using the environment to meet social and personal goals. Additionally, through adult supported exploration, children gained an appreciation for the natural world. Early childhood educators should consider the balance between child-initiated and adult guided experiences with place particularly by designing open-ended spaces and activities that allow children to gain a sense of control.
North American Association for Environmnental Education. 2000 P Street NW Suite 540, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 202-419-0412; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A