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At the Intersection of the Social and Physical Environments: Building a Model of the Influence of Caregivers and Peers on Direct Engagement with Nature

by 1,* and 2
1
Landscape Architecture Division, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK 73019, USA
2
Landscape Architecture Department, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Geographies 2021, 1(1), 63-78; https://doi.org/10.3390/geographies1010005
Received: 16 March 2021 / Revised: 25 May 2021 / Accepted: 28 May 2021 / Published: 3 June 2021
The movement to reconnect children to nature touts the many benefits associated with exposure to nature and encourages designers and planners of the physical environment to incorporate more nature into the daily lives of children. However, connecting children with nature may not be as simple as designing more nature into the physical environment. Variables beyond convenient availability of natural environments affect children’s engagement with nature. Of particular interest is the influence of the social environment. The research seeks to build a model to understand the influence of caregivers and peers on a child’s direct engagement with nature. An initial model of social influences was constructed from existing literature and refined from findings from an original research study, a qualitative investigation exploring the highly imaginative and social experience of a group of boys who played in a neighborhood creek (n = 3, boys, n = 2, parents). The most meaningful social influence on the boys’ direct engagement with nature was the level of autonomy granted by caregivers; however, the physical environment supported the autonomy as well. The autonomy afforded an opportunity to navigate risks, forge long-term friendships, and support higher-order cognitive play behavior. View Full-Text
Keywords: children; dramatic/imaginative play; autonomy; hierarchical relationships; social identity relationships; attachment; reciprocal relationships children; dramatic/imaginative play; autonomy; hierarchical relationships; social identity relationships; attachment; reciprocal relationships
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MDPI and ACS Style

Little, S.; Rice, A. At the Intersection of the Social and Physical Environments: Building a Model of the Influence of Caregivers and Peers on Direct Engagement with Nature. Geographies 2021, 1, 63-78. https://doi.org/10.3390/geographies1010005

AMA Style

Little S, Rice A. At the Intersection of the Social and Physical Environments: Building a Model of the Influence of Caregivers and Peers on Direct Engagement with Nature. Geographies. 2021; 1(1):63-78. https://doi.org/10.3390/geographies1010005

Chicago/Turabian Style

Little, Sarah; Rice, Art. 2021. "At the Intersection of the Social and Physical Environments: Building a Model of the Influence of Caregivers and Peers on Direct Engagement with Nature" Geographies 1, no. 1: 63-78. https://doi.org/10.3390/geographies1010005

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