Parents’ beliefs about young children’s play and nature experiences in Danish and US contexts

Two studies were conducted in the US and Denmark to examine parents’ beliefs about the importance of play and nature experiences for early childhood development. Thirty parents in the US and 19 parents in Denmark completed semi-structured interviews with quantitative and qualitative elements. Although families in both contexts highly valued outdoor and nature experiences, parents in the Danish context provided a stronger rationale for taking children outdoors regardless of environmental conditions and affording them opportunities to explore freely and take risks. Parents in the US focused mainly on individual developmental benefits of play, whereas parents in Denmark also acknowledged the importance of spending time in nature for society and the environment. The findings provide evidence that sociocultural values and expectations influence parental beliefs and practices regarding outdoor and nature play, and have implications for young children’s play opportunities within and across cultural contexts. © 2018, © 2018 Institute for Outdoor Learning.

Two studies were conducted in the US and Denmark to examine parents’ beliefs about the importance of play and nature experiences for early childhood development. Thirty parents in the US and 19 parents in Denmark completed semi-structured interviews with quantitative and qualitative elements. Although families in both contexts highly valued outdoor and nature experiences, parents in the Danish context provided a stronger rationale for taking children outdoors regardless of environmental conditions and affording them opportunities to explore freely and take risks. Parents in the US focused mainly on individual developmental benefits of play, whereas parents in Denmark also acknowledged the importance of spending time in nature for society and the environment. The findings provide evidence that sociocultural values and expectations influence parental beliefs and practices regarding outdoor and nature play, and have implications for young children’s play opportunities within and across cultural contexts. © 2018, © 2018 Institute for Outdoor Learning.

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