Significant Life Experiences that Connect Children with Nature: A Research Review and Applications to a Family Nature Club

Living reference work entry
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)

Abstract

In past research on significant life experiences (SLE) that influence environmental values and behaviors, a triad of experiences frequently emerge: free play and exploration in nature in childhood or youth, influential role models who communicate nature’s value, and opportunities to learn how to take action on nature’s behalf. This chapter opens with a review of past SLE research and theories of child development that predict these repeated findings. It also reports on an evaluation of family nature clubs (FNCs) – community-based organizations that regularly bring families together to enjoy nature together, creating conditions for families to share all three of these experiences that have been associated with care for the natural world. This study of more than 330 FNC leaders and participants found both quantitative and qualitative support for the effects of these formative experiences. Statistically significant survey results are complemented by ethnographic observations and interviews that offer insight into what happens during these experiences that makes them important and lasting in memory. The consistency between this study’s results, previous SLE research, and relevant concepts in the psychology of child development is discussed.

Keywords

Significant life experiences research Childhood time in nature Family nature clubs 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Community Ecology InsituteColumbiaUSA
  2. 2.The University of Colorado BoulderBoulderUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Debra Flanders Cushing
    • 1
  • Robert Barratt
    • 2
  • Elisabeth Barratt Hacking
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Design, Creative Industries FacultyQueensland University of TechnologyBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.The Eden ProjectCornwallUK
  3. 3.Department of EducationUniversity of BathBathUK

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