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Planting the seeds for nature-based learning: Impacts of a farm- and nature-based early childhood education program

Farm- and nature-based early childhood education programs have a unique potential to provide young children with skills and experiences that build a strong foundation for future learning and environmental stewardship, but can also to extend positive impacts to families. In this paper, we work to bridge the gap between research and practice by presenting a description and program evaluation of the Farm Sprouts farm-based preschool program. The Farm Sprouts program supports learning and positive child development in the context of the natural world, with a focus on environmental stewardship, food systems, and nature. Semi-structured interviews (n = 16) and surveys (n = 33) were conducted with parents of children enrolled in the Farm Sprouts program. These interviews and surveys collected information on parents’ perceptions of how the Farm Sprouts program impacted their child, with specific focus on changes in children’s cognitive, language, and social skills, scientific inquiry, interaction with nature, interest in exploration, as well as impacts on family interactions. The results of this program evaluation suggest that quality farm- or nature-based programs can positively impact a child’s language and conversation skills, increase their interest in nature and desire to explore, and positively impact family interactions. Lessons learned and implications for other farm- and nature-based educational efforts are discussed. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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