In British Columbia’s nature programs where hearts are rooted : a multiple case study of nature education in early childhood education
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This research is aimed at contributing to knowledge about early childhood education (ECE) nature programs for children aged two to five years old. In the research, three cases that embed eight early childhood nature programs were examined in British Columbia (BC). This research is applied and interdisciplinary. The research questions address why nature education is important in educating young children. A qualitative approach was used to identify the relevant data outlined in this dissertation. Data was collected at individual case study programs and then analyzed through thematic analysis, coding of materials, field observations, and researcher reflections. The key findings determined that: (1) nature exposure helps reconnect children to nature; and (2) there are social benefits of that reconnection that positively affect children’s development, happiness, and health. Findings also indicated that to realize these outcomes, operators and educators of nature programs- have a breadth and depth of leadership that demonstrated both a vision and a mission of how to facilitate children’s experiences in nature. In the research process, limitations were identified alongside ethical considerations, to inform the completed research. Findings from this study will be disseminated to interested early childhood professionals. This knowledge dissemination is key to building nature education capacity in ECE programs. Key Words: nature, methodology, case study, children, early childhood education, nature education, early childhood educators, placed-based education, pedagogy, resource
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