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Teachers' opinions on activities in a natural environment with special needs children

Ajda Podobnik (2018) Teachers' opinions on activities in a natural environment with special needs children. MSc thesis.

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    Spending time in nature has a positive impact on an individual's health and there is a growing evidence that it has an impact on other areas as well. The focus of this master’s thesis is on the implementation of activities in natural environments in the program for pre-school children with adapted implementation and additional professional help. Children with special needs have problems in different areas, but they can overcome or alleviate them with appropriate help. In the thesis, didactic recommendations for assisting in the implementation of activities outside the kindergarten with a child with special needs that can support the educators are presented. Forest pedagogy which is known and implemented in the Scandinavian countries is presented. In Slovenia, it is introduced, represented and brought closer to schools and kindergartens by the Institute for Forest Education. By integrating activities in the forest and other natural environments, educators promote motor development and therefore, affect the cognitive, emotional and social fields as well. Risk assessment, the method of work, through which we can consider where the risks are and how to overcome them are presented as well. A number of Slovene and foreign research on natural education have confirmed the positive effect on children who regularly go to the forest and meadows, so we have studied the extent to which the educators of groups with children with special needs are visiting forests or performing activities. The purpose was to find out what the experience, obstacles and advantages in planning and implementing activities outside the kindergarten in these groups are. The study involved 56 educators who had a child with special needs in their group in the last five years. Educators are employed in the program for pre-school children with personalized implementation and additional professional help. The data for the survey was collected using the online questionnaire. The results showed the following: the educators visit the forest, but in most cases only once a month, the working period does not affect the frequency of visiting the natural land, but the distance from the forest affects the frequency of visits. Educators have not expressed major differences in the forest attendance with the inclusion and non-inclusion of a child with special needs in their group. Organizational barriers were often highlighted for non-implementation of the activities in the forest. The results also showed that the educators have a positive experience with the involvement of children with special needs in activities and they see the progress in the area of gross motor skills, perception, proprioception and orientation. Educators, despite the possibility of assistance and cooperation with a special pedagogue, do not use this. But they want to be able to accompany the group to the forest as an additional educator who would provide support for a child with special needs. The results of the research, therefore, show that the situation in Slovenia is somewhat shifting, educators go to the forest and there they also perform activities with a child with special needs. They see the progress, but they do not have the sense of support from the management or they are burdened with other projects so that they do not carry out the activities repeatedly.

    Item Type: Thesis (MSc thesis)
    Keywords: educator, special and rehabilitation pedagogue, preschool children with special needs, activities in the natural environment, forest pedagogy
    Number of Pages: 54
    Language of Content: Slovenian
    Mentor / Comentors:
    Mentor / ComentorsIDFunction
    izr. prof. dr. Janez JermanMentor
    asist. dr. Mojca Vrhovski MohoričComentor
    Link to COBISS: https://plus.si.cobiss.net/opac7/bib/peflj/12224329
    Institution: University of Ljubljana
    Department: Faculty of Education
    Item ID: 5484
    Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2018 11:07
    Last Modified: 03 Dec 2018 11:07
    URI: http://pefprints.pef.uni-lj.si/id/eprint/5484

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