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ERIC Number: EJ1225656
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2019
Pages: 15
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: EISSN-2331-0464
Physical Activity and Parental Attitudes and Beliefs of Children Attending a Nature Preschool
Fyfe-Johnson, Amber L.; Saelens, Brian E.; Christakis, Dimitri A.; Tandon, Pooja S.
International Journal of Early Childhood Environmental Education, v6 n3 p3-17 Sum 2019
Children who spend more time outdoors are more physically active and have fewer behavioral problems than those who spend less time outdoors. No studies to date have evaluated physical activity and behavioral outcomes in an exclusively outdoor nature preschool setting. The aim of this study was to examine differences in objectively measured physical activity and child behavior in children attending a nature preschool compared to waitlisted controls. This cross-sectional pilot study was conducted in Seattle, Washington, in 2016. Children were 3-5 years of age (n=33) at the time of enrollment; parents or primary caregivers completed assessments. Children in the intervention group were enrolled at the nature preschool. The comparison group included children that were either waitlisted at the nature preschool, or were participating in a 2-hour nature-based outdoor enrichment class at the same location once per week. All children wore Actigraph accelerometers to measure moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA; primary outcome) for 5 days; parents completed the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire to assess child behavior (secondary outcome). Children in the control group engaged in 16 more minutes/day of MVPA compared to children attending the nature preschool (113 minutes, SD=24; 97 minutes, SD=16, respectively). No differences were found in MVPA during preschool hours (9 am to 1 pm). Parents of children attending the nature preschool reported wanting their children to engage in more active outdoor playtime compared to controls (206 minutes, SD=136; 150 minutes, SD=87, respectively). Actual self-reported active outdoor playtime was also higher for nature preschool participants compared to controls (233 minutes, SD=61; 67 minutes, SD=52, respectively). Parents of nature preschool participants were more comfortable with lower temperatures (21 degrees F, SD=12) for their children to play outdoors than control families (30 degrees F, SD=19). In summary, both children attending more traditional childcare environments and nature preschools had high levels of MVPA and parents of children in nature preschools were more tolerant of colder conditions for outdoor play.
North American Association for Environmnental Education. 1725 DeSales Street NW, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 202-419-0412; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Early Childhood Education; Preschool Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (DHHS/NIH)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Washington (Seattle)
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire
Grant or Contract Numbers: K23HL1129500FA1