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Date Permissions Signed
Date of Award
Department or Program Affiliation
Master of Education (MEd)
Myers, Gene (O. Gene)
Hughes, Eileen, 1951-
Extensive research supports the benefits of nature exploration in children’s lives. Research also suggests, however, that low-income families and other historically marginalized groups experience multiple barriers to accessing green spaces. In an attempt to counteract this inequality, a needs assessment was performed to understand the challenges and barriers public preschool providers face in regularly leading their children in nature exploration. The target audience of this evaluation was Head Start and Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program [ECEAP] teachers and parents. Along with measuring the challenges and barriers at these centers in regard to nature exploration, this evaluation assessed the resources and assistance needed to support the Head Start and ECEAP community’s environmental education interests. Informed by common worlds framework and theory supporting nature and child development, a thematic analysis of interviews with Head Start and ECEAP teachers and parents suggests a need to increase the amount of daily outdoor play and nature exploration within Head Start and ECEAP centers. Results of this evaluation also suggest a need to address safety and liability concerns, lack of weather appropriate outdoor clothing, limited play yard features, and access, or perceived access, to natural areas. Future efforts to encourage opportunities for nature exploration in public preschools should incorporate professional development, parent outreach, and culturally sustaining pedagogies. The findings of this evaluation may be used to guide program improvement and development that supports and incorporates routine nature exploration into the Head Start and ECEAP curriculum.
Early Childhood, Preschool, Needs Assessment, Evaluation, Nature exploration, Nature-based curriculum
Western Washington University
Subjects – Names (LCNAF)
Head Start/Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (Bellingham, Wash.)
Subject – LCSH
Environmental education--Washington (State)--Bellingham; Nature study--Washington (State)--Bellingham; Outdoor recreation for children--Washington (State)--Bellingham; Low-income students--Washington (State)--Bellingham; Minorities--Washington (State)--Bellingham; Preschool children--Environmental aspects--Washington (State)--Bellingham; Curriculum planning--Washington (State)--Bellingham
Copying of this document in whole or in part is allowable only for scholarly purposes. It is understood, however, that any copying or publication of this thesis for commercial purposes, or for financial gain, shall not be allowed without the author's written permission.
Liebhold, Naomi, "A Needs Assessment of the Perceptions and Opportunities to Enhance Nature Exploration at Publicly Funded Preschools" (2019). WWU Graduate School Collection. 870.