Environmental Awareness in Early Years Education: A Systematic Content Analysis on Research from Different Countries
This systematic literature review and content analysis was conducted to ascertain what research from different countries have found regarding the development of environmental awareness in the early years. Environmental awareness in the context of this study speaks to an understanding of the symbiotic relationship of the different entities coexisting within the environment. Research has shown that as children’s environmental knowledge increases, their personal attitudes are modified to more pro-environmental ways. Environmental awareness, over time, may also support children to develop a sense of identity that goes beyond the individual and encompasses how they see themselves as living cohesively as part of the environment through socialization and experience. This systematic literature review and content analysis explored what programs and practices exist in different parts of the world that engage children in various activities in biodiverse places, to support the development of their environmental awareness, which is based on their geographical location, culture, and socialization. To determine how children are supported as they develop their environmental awareness, this content analysis reviewed 80 articles from 15 countries. The findings of this systematic content analysis revealed that research from 15 countries across the world embrace the discourse of early childhood environmental education, but with different foci and objectives. These differences are sometimes determined based on social interactions, family values, community norms, national curricula, geographical locations, and culture. This systematic content analysis also revealed that young children can recognize interdependency and develop relationships with other-than-humans within the environment through programs such as nature schools, place-based education, forest schools, and other kindergarten programs. This recognition enables children to honour themselves as humans to survive and to become mindful of the needs of other entities within the environment and of the need to exist interdependently. Through programs and practices as revealed by the systematic content analysis children can deepen their environmental awareness, see themselves as part of the environment, and perhaps can then go on to participate in decision-making and action initiatives to sustain and support the environment.
environmental awareness, environmental education, identity, environmental identity, early childhood education, early childhood environmental education, biodiversity, biodiverse places, nature, natural landscapes, outdoor learning, systematic content analysis, nature schools, place-based education
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)