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Places and Spaces Through a Child?s Eyes: An exploration of the therapeutic experiences and feelings of place and space of very young children engaged in non-directive play in nature. September 2013

By January 1, 2013No Comments

This study is an exploration of the therapeutic experiences and feelings associated with place and space for very young children as they engaged in child-led play in the natural environment. Using an empirical phenomenological approach, I aimed to explore the meanings, structure and essential elements of the children’s lived experiences within the context of a natural play model that placed children at the core of the play process. The research was conducted in an outdoor nature-based early years setting with a group of six children aged between three and five years old. A multi-method methodology was employed to gather the children’s perspectives. Observation of emergent, child-led play was combined with the use of participatory verbal and non-verbal tools as the primary sources of data. Observations suggest that direct contact with the enriched natural environment supported by empathic, non-judgemental adults may enhance the therapeutic qualities of play and provide young children with profound opportunities for growth and explore