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Making the Case for Environmental Education Kansas Association for Environmental Education, 2012 Childhood Memories?. American children spend less than half as much time outdoors as their parents did growing up

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Making the Case for Environmental EducationKansas Association for Environmental Education,

childhood memories
Childhood Memories?
  • American children spend less than half as much time outdoors as their parents did growing up
  • Spending 7 ½ hours per day on electronic equipment during their free time
  • US children under 13 spend about half an hour of unstructured time outdoors each week

(Kaiser Family Foundation, 2010)

nature deficit disorder richard louv 2005
Nature Deficit Disorder Richard Louv (2005)
  • ADHD
  • Childhood obesity
  • Cognitive & conceptual development
  • Children need more time outdoors in structured and unstructured settings

“Within just one generation, the definition of ‘play’ has changed dramatically among children in industrialized countries.” Ruth A. Etzel, MD PhD, 2010

impact on children s health
Impact on Children’s Health
  • Childhood obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Asthma
  • Sleep disorders
  • Lack of Vitamin D
  • Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Depression

(McCurdy Et. Al., 2010)

this might say it all
This Might Say It All…

Today’s children may be the first generation to have a shorter lifespan than the previous generation.

how nature helps
How Nature Helps
  • Physical activity improves health
  • Exposure to natural environments improves attention
  • Exposure to natural environments decreases stress
  • Play in nature is a practical method to address childhood obesity and mental health
  • Cost-effective & easily sustainable
cognitive benefits
Cognitive Benefits
  • Increased Focus
  • Improved Cognition

(Wells, 2000)

emotional social benefits
Emotional & Social Benefits
  • Children with attention-deficit disorder (ADD) benefit from more exposure to nature –the greener a child’s everyday environment, the more manageable their ADD symptoms.
  • Access to green spaces for learning and play, and even having views of green settings, enhances peace, self-control, and self-discipline among inner-city youth, especially among girls.

(Taylor, 2001)

emotional social benefits1
Emotional & Social Benefits

Play and learning in diverse natural environments reduces or eliminates anti-social behavior such as violence, bullying, vandalism, and littering and reduces school absenteeism.

(Coffey, 2001; Malone, 2003; Moore, 2000)

health nutrition benefits
Health & Nutrition Benefits

Children who experience school grounds or play areas with diverse natural settings are more physically active, more aware of good nutrition, more creative, and more civil to one another. (Bell & Dyment, 2006)

nature helps adults too newsweek web a moment of zen feb 12 2009
Nature Helps Adults, Too!Newsweek Web, “A Moment of Zen” Feb. 12, 2009
  • People who have even “electronic” views of nature had a greater sense of well-being and clearer thinking. (Kahn)
  • Time in nature helps promote better focus, attention & concentration.(Berman)

NEETF/Roper Starch Surveys

  • Only 3 out of 10 Americans can pass a quiz on basic environmental knowledge
  • Most Americans believe they know more about the environment than they actually do
  • Makes case for increasing opportunities for Environmental Education
benefits of ee for the environment
Benefits of EE for the Environment
  • EE Engages children in hands-on learning activities that promote critical thinking & problem solving skills, increased environmental knowledge relevant to the place they live, and development of a land ethic.
  • Higher levels of environmental knowledge correlate significantly with a higher degree of pro-environment behavior. The more people know, the more likely they are to recycle, be energy efficient, conserve water, etc. (NEETF, 2006).
where does environmental education take place
Where Does Environmental Education Take Place?
  • Formal settings:

- Head Start

- Preschools

- Child Care Centers

- K-12 Public & Private Schools

- Home Schools

- Technical & Community Colleges

- Colleges & Universities

where does environmental education take place1
Where Does Environmental Education Take Place?
  • Non-formal Settings:
    • Zoos
    • Nature Centers
    • Parks
    • Museums
    • Homes
    • Churches
    • Libraries
    • After School Programs
    • Summer Programs
    • Natural Resource Field Days
    • Fairs & Festivals
ee starts in early childhood
EE Starts in Early Childhood

Early childhood educators should provide opportunities for children to experience peace, joy, and fascination with nature because these emotions undergird the developing knowledge, skills, and dispositions. (Harlan & Rivkin, 2008)

what is early childhood environmental education
What is Early Childhood Environmental Education?
  • Develop a sense of wonder
  • Appreciation for the natural world
  • Opportunities to experience nature
  • Development of problem-solving skills
  • Respect for other creatures
  • Development of interest and

appreciation for the world around us

(NAAEE Early Childhood Guidelines for Excellence)

what is early childhood environmental education1
What is Early Childhood Environmental Education?
  • Learning is more than a cognitive process
  • Emotions play an important role
  • Environmental education

begins close to home,

encouraging children

to understand and form connections

with their immediate surroundings

(NAAEE Early Childhood Guidelines for Excellence)

why early childhood environmental education
Why Early Childhood Environmental Education?

Research has shown that most attitudes are formed very early in life, and this is why it is so important for environmental education to begin in early childhood.

(NAAEE Early Childhood Guidelines for Excellence)

early childhood environmental education national standards
Early Childhood Environmental Education & National Standards
  • Early Childhood EE Activities are designed to address all Head Start Domains (language development, literacy, mathematics, science, creative arts, social and emotional development, approaches to learning, and physical health and development).
  • Early Childhood EE Activities are aligned with NAEYC’s goals for children and promote learning and development in the areas of social, emotional, physical, language, and cognitive development.
why environmental education in k 12 schools
Why Environmental Educationin K-12 Schools?

Outdoor education, greener school grounds and more outdoor play time in natural settings:

  • Usefully employ all of a child’s native intelligences, ranging from math and science smarts to interpersonal communications
  • Are particularly effective at helping under-resourced, low-income students perform measurably better in school
  • Quantitatively increase student motivation and enthusiasm to learn
  • Markedly improve classroom behavior with fewer discipline referrals and related problems
  • Help students concentrate for longer periods and help mitigate attention deficit problems

(National Wildlife Federation, 2010)

why environmental education in k 12 schools1
Why Environmental Educationin K-12 Schools?

Outdoor education, greener school grounds and more outdoor play time in natural settings:

• Help students to learn across disciplines and make them better real-world problem solvers

• Help keep students engaged in their school work and make them

less inclined to drop out of school

• Measurably improve classroom performance in math, science, reading and social studies.

• Increase scores on statewide standardized tests in basic skills, reading, science and math.

• Improve performance on college entrance exams.

(National Wildlife Federation, 2010)

why environmental education in k 12 schools2
Why Environmental Educationin K-12 Schools?
  • Schools that adopt EE as the central focus of their academic programs frequently demonstrate the following results (Liberman & Hoody, 1998; NEETF, 2000; Archie, 2003):
    • Reading, science, social studies, and mathematics scores improve.
    • Students develop the ability to transfer their knowledge from familiar to unfamiliar contexts.
    • Students “learn to do science” rather than “just learn about science.”
    • Classroom discipline problems and truancy decline.
    • All students have the opportunity to learn at a higher level.

environmental education the 21 st century learner
Environmental Education & the 21st Century Learner
  • Consensus building
  • Inquiry-driven
  • Connection to service learning
  • Involving the community
  • Project-based
  • Working in teams
  • Presenting your case, ie town hall meetings
  • Representing viewpoints different than your own
EE Supports Critical Thinking, Analysis, Synthesis, & Real World Applications Emphasized in New National Standards
environmental education career technical education green jobs
Environmental Education, Career & Technical Education, & Green Jobs
  • EE can serve as a real world entry point for students to discover an interest in the environment
  • EE can provide a basic understanding of how ecosystems work and how human actions affect the environment
  • EE can introduce students to environmental issues such as energy production and use, and help them learn the skills needed to solve challenges
high quality environmental education
High Quality Environmental Education
  • KACEE offers nationally developed EE Curricula such as Project WET, WILD, Learning Tree and Leopold Education Project
  • Activity guides developed and field tested by educators AND natural resource professionals to guarantee sound teaching methods & scientific accuracy
  • Non-biased approach to EE, teaching HOW to think, not what to think about environmental issues
  • Workshops delivered by trained facilitators
support ee in the community
Support EE in the Community
  • Support/Enhance Non-Formal & Out of School Programs to make EE a PRIORITY as school-based EE is limited
  • Offer EE workshops with Project Learning Tree, Project WET, Project WILD, Project WILD Aquatic and the Leopold Education Project
  • Get involved with KACEE (
support ee in schools
Support EE in Schools

Kansas Green Schools Program: - Sign up!

  • Network of schools in Kansas working toward dual goals of environmental projects/stewardship and EE (500+ schools)
  • Small Grant Opportunities
  • School Recognition
  • Green School Awards
  • Partner Organizations

Sponsored by KACEE and the KS Dept of Health and Environment

support statewide national initiatives to re connect children with nature
Support Statewide & National Initiatives to Re-connect Children with Nature
  • Children and Nature Network
  • No Child Left Inside Coalition
  • Kansans for Children in Nature