A-13/15 Betwixt the Wild, Unknown and the Safe: Play and the Affordances of Nature within an Early Childhood Education and Care Institution in Norway

The aim of this paper is to describe the availability of and use of nearby outdoor spaces along a nature continuum by Norwegian children. We carried out a nationwide survey of 3 160 parents with children aged 6–12 years, using a comprehensive web-based questionnaire. Results from the survey show forests are the most common outdoor space in residential areas in Norway. In all, 97% of parents state that their children have access to forests within walking or cycling distance from home. When it comes to suitability for play, 88% state that their child, in general, has good or very good opportunities for play in nearby nature. A key finding of the study is that nearby nature spaces have a much more sporadic daily use by children than outdoor developed spaces such as playgrounds and sports facilities. The paper discusses reasons for this observed pattern focusing on the play environment and opportunities for children to play in nature. A central question for future research is why children merely play in their own garden and not in the forest. International Journal of Early Childhood Early Childhood Environmental Education 3 (1), p. 28-37

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