Amanda Guimaraes Gabriel, Outdoor Environments for Health and Well-being - Master's Programme
A growing body of developmental literature has increased our knowledge of the importance of everyday environments, recognizing that the surroundings where children live can support or constrain their experiences in the present and their possibilities in the future. Children in low-socioeconomic areas are exposed to experiences that negatively affect their cognitive, emotional, and social development. The physical locations of children´s everyday lives can also play a positive role in children's learning, and they could be used as a resource in vulnerable areas.
During 2020-2021, my degree project was carried out to investigate how a group of pre-school children who grow up in a low-social economic urban environment understand, use and experience different outdoor spaces in their everyday lives, with a focus on the role of natural elements for their experiences. A group of pre-school children had the opportunity to visit SLU Landscape's laboratory, an area with different kinds of landscapes and nature that is used for studies. The main method was participatory observation, and other methods were workshops, a child-led walk interview, and interviews with educators.
Results were presented in narrative and thematic form, including a narrative map – a visual representation of how the children perceived different places. The study proposes improvements to the environment in vulnerable areas that can benefit children's development. As well as implications for educational practice that will help children make the best of the environment they have. This knowledge can be applied in all preschool contexts regardless of socioeconomic status.
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