Preschool Participation in a Nature-based Science Enrichment Program: Evaluation of Children’s Activity Preference, Literacy Skills, and Development

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Dr. Sonja Trent-Brown

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This study examines the physical and intellectual effects of a nature-based science enrichment program for preschool-aged children. The current study looks at the relationship between active outdoor preferences and academic performance. We expect that children who participate in the nature-based enrichment program will demonstrate greater literacy skills and development. Participation in the program should lead to increased outdoor activity preferences. Past studies have shown that sacrificing classroom time for physical activity corresponds with positive academic performance (Robert, 2007, p.2). Thus, inclusion of outdoor education is likely to demonstrate positive effects. Participants were recruited from local preschools on the basis of grant funding from the Kellogg Foundation and the Outdoor Discovery Center in Holland, Michigan. Participants were males and females ages 3-5 years old. Activity preferences were evaluated using an adaption of Leary’s Preschool Activity Preferences measure (2009). This specific measure includes children’s preference toward sedentary indoor or active outdoor activities. Academic performance will be assessed using the Preschool Early Literacy Indicators (PELI) assessment. The PELI examines early literacy skills in a storybook format (Kaminski, Abbott, Bravo-Aguayo, Latimer, & Good, 2013). The Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) was used to examine developmental stages. The ASQ examines developmental and social-emotional characteristics of young children (Brookes Publishing, 2014). Higher PELI and ASQ scores correspond with greater skills development. Expected outcomes are that greater literacy skills will positively correlate with development, through comparison of PELI and ASQ scores. Outdoor activity preference will correlate positively with higher PELI scores. Additionally, outdoor activity preference will positively correlate with higher ASQ scores. Outcomes of this study will show the effectiveness of a nature-based science enrichment program for use in future preschool educational planning.


This research was funded by a grant from the Kellogg Foundation

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