Implications of a Nature-Based Science Enrichment Program for Early Literacy and Cognitive Development Outcomes

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Sonja Trent-Brown, Psychology

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An outdoor, nature-based, science enrichment program was implemented in a nature preschool and traditional preschools to connect children with nature and to determine the impact of the nature curriculum on the activity preference, health indicators, and cognitive development of preschoolers. With an emphasis on whole child development, this evaluation explored early literacy and cognitive developmental outcomes, specifically, communication, problem solving, language, and mathematics indicators. We examined the relationships between these skills and activity preference, BMI, and demographic variables. Multiple activity preference measures assessed both active and sedentary preferences as well as preferences for indoor versus outdoor activities in individual and social settings. This study also investigated the impact of the frequency of nature-based learning on the development of preschoolers as well as patterns across demographic variables and impact of the outdoor learning environment. This work has implications for preschool curriculum design in nature-based preschools and in traditional preschools.

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