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Preschool childrenʼs understanding of pro-environmental behaviours: is it too hard for them?

Marjanca Kos and Janez Jerman and Urška Anžlovar and Gregor Torkar (2016) Preschool childrenʼs understanding of pro-environmental behaviours: is it too hard for them?. International Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 11 (12). pp. 5554-5571. ISSN 1306-3065

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    Early childhood is a period of life in which lifelong attitudes, values and patterns of behaviour regarding nature are shaped. Environmental education is becoming a growing area of interest in early childhood education. The aim of the research study was to identify children’s understanding of why and how their pro-environmental behaviours influence the environment. The sample was composed of 40 children aged 5 and 6. A quasi-experiment was conducted with control and experimental groups, each made up of 20 children. The initial semi-structured interviews sought to identify their initial ideas about the meaning of pro-environmental actions. Children from the experimental group then participated in activities in which they acquired knowledge in the natural sciences through direct experience and were becoming familiar with the meaning of the following proenvironmental behaviours: walk/cycling/using public transport instead of driving by car, turning off lights (rational use of electricity) and turning off the tap (rational use of water). At the end, the interviews in both groups were repeated. The results showed that at the beginning the great majority of children had no idea about how they influence the environment with each individual environmental behaviour. In their statements they expressed they behaved pro-environmentally because this was the socially desired behaviour. After they carried out the activities, the experimental group children’s knowledge about the influence of pro-environmental behaviours was strongly improved with regard to those pro-environmental behaviours they had studied – the large majority of children had acquired a correct and precise idea about them. We find that, even in the preschool period, children are able to understand the scientific background and the impact of pro-environmental behaviours if presented to them in a way appropriate for their age. We propose that during preschool children should not only perform environmental behaviours, but should also be given the opportunity within environmental education to acquire knowledge and understanding through experiential learning about the impact of these behaviours on the environment.

    Item Type: Article
    Keywords: science education, environmental education, pre-school child
    Related URLs:
    URLURL Type
    http://www.ijese.net/makale/723Alternative location
    http://cobiss6.izum.si/scripts/cobiss?command=DISPLAY&base=50126&rid=11158601&fmt=11&lani=siAlternative location
    Institution: University of Ljubljana
    Department: Faculty of Education
    Divisions: Department of Biology, Chemistry and Home Economics > Chair of Biology and Chemistry
    Department of Preschool Education
    Department of Special and Rehabilitation Education > Chair of Speech and Language Therapy
    Item ID: 3714
    Date Deposited: 15 Sep 2016 13:27
    Last Modified: 15 Sep 2016 13:27
    URI: http://pefprints.pef.uni-lj.si/id/eprint/3714

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