Advertisement

Childhood Nature Experiences Across Residential Settings: Rural, Suburban, and Urban

  • Kristi S. LekiesEmail author
  • Jed D. Brensinger
Reference work entry
Part of the Geographies of Children and Young People book series (GCYP, volume 12)

Abstract

Much concern has been raised over the past decade that children are not engaging in outdoor play as frequently as in past generations. Little is known, however, about the specific interactions that children have with natural environments and the variability in nature-related free play and recreation among children. This chapter includes a review of literature on nature experiences throughout the childhood life span across different types of urban, rural, and suburban settings. Of interest is how rural childhoods compare to those of other settings, taking into account the traditional imagery and ideology of rural places being close to nature and safe for children. The chapter draws upon two studies of university students from the Midwestern United States reflecting back upon their childhood experiences with outdoor recreation and play. Findings indicated that individuals who grew up in rural areas reported significantly more experiences in recreational and play activities than those from other areas, with most differences being between urban and suburban youth compared to rural youth. More understanding is needed about current experiences in different types of communities, accessibility to natural areas, impacts of agricultural and land use changes, and variations among children and youth.

Keywords

Childhood nature experiences Human-nature relationships Outdoor recreation Children’s geographies Rural youth Rural childhood Play Rural idyll Suburban youth Urban youth 

References

  1. Bell, S., Ward Thompson, C., & Travlou, P. (2003). Contested views of freedom and control: Children, teenagers and urban fringe woodlands in Central Scotland. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 2, 87–100. doi:10.1078/1618-8667-00026.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bennett, M., & Teague, D. W. (1999). Ecocriticism: An introduction. In M. Bennett & D. W. Teague (Eds.), The nature of cities: Ecocriticism and urban environments (pp. 3–14). Tucson: University of Arizona Press.Google Scholar
  3. Bixler, R. D., & Morris, B. (2000). Factors differentiating water-based wildland recreationists from nonparticipants: Implications for recreation activity instruction. Journal of Park and Recreation Administration, 18, 54–72.Google Scholar
  4. Brown, D. L., & Schafft, K. A. (2011). Rural people and communities in the 21st century: Resilience and transformation. Malden: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  5. Chawla, L., & Derr, V. (2012). The development of childhood behaviors in childhood and youth. In S. D. Clayton (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of environmental and conservation psychology (pp. 527–555). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Chudacoff, H. P. (2007). Children at play: An American history. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Clark, C. E., Jr. (1986). The American family home, 1800–1960. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press.Google Scholar
  8. Clements, R. (2004). An investigation of the status of outdoor play. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 5, 68–80. doi:10.2304/ciec.2004.5.1.10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Davies, Z. G., Fuller, R. A., Loram, A., Irvine, K. N., Sims, V., & Gaston, K. J. (2009). A national scale inventory of resource provision for biodiversity within domestic gardens. Biological Conservation, 142, 761–771. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2008.12.016.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dunkley, C. M. (2004). Risky geographies: Teens, gender, and rural landscape in North America. Gender, Place and Culture, 11, 559–579. doi:10.1080/0966369042000307004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ewert, A., Place, G., & Sibthorp, J. (2005). Early-life outdoor experiences and an individual’s environmental attitudes. Leisure Sciences, 27, 225–239. doi:10.1080/01490400590930853.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Freeman, C. (1995). Planning and play: Creating greener environments. Children’s Environments, 12, 381–388.Google Scholar
  13. Freeman, C., & Tranter, P. (2011). Children & their urban environment: Changing worlds. Washington, DC: Earthscan.Google Scholar
  14. Gaster, S. (1991). Urban children’s access to their neighborhood changes over three generations. Environment and Behavior, 23, 70–85. doi:10.1177/0013916591231004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gibson, J. J. (1979). The ecological approach to visual perception. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  16. Giddings, R., & Yarwood, R. (2005). Growing up, going out and growing out of the countryside: Childhood experiences in rural England. Children’s Geographies, 3, 101–114. doi:10.1080/14733280500037331.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Harnick, P. (2010). Urban green: Innovative parks for resurgent cities. Washington, DC: Island Press.Google Scholar
  18. Hart, R. (1979). Children’s experience of place. New York: Halsted Press.Google Scholar
  19. Hillman, M., Adams, J., & Whitelegg, J. (1990). One false move: A study of children’s independent mobility. London: Policy Studies Institute.Google Scholar
  20. Hofferth, S. L. (2009). Changes in American children’s time–1997–2003. Electronic International Journal of Time Use Research, 6, 26–47. doi:10.13085/eIJTUR.6.1.26-47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kahn, P. H., Ruckert, J. H., & Hasbach, P. H. (2012). A nature language. In P. H. Kahn & P. H. Hasbach (Eds.), Ecopsychology: Science, totems, and the technological species (pp. 55–77). Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  22. Karsten, L. (2005). It all used to be better? Different generations on continuity and change in urban children’s daily use of space. Children’s Geographies, 3, 275–290. doi:10.1080/14733280500352912.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. King, K., & Church, A. (2013). ‘We don’t enjoy nature like that’: Youth identity and lifestyle in the countryside. Journal of Rural Studies, 31, 67–76. doi:10.1016/j.jrurstud.2013.02.004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kyttä, M. (2004). The extent of children’s independent mobility and the actualized affordances as criteria for child-friendly environments. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 24, 179–198. doi:10.1016/S0272-4944(03)00073-2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Larson, L. R., Green, G. T., & Cordell, H. K. (2011). Children’s time outdoors: Results and implications of the national kids survey. Journal of Park and Recreation Administration, 29, 1–20.Google Scholar
  26. Louv, R. (2005). Last child in the woods: Saving our children from nature-deficit disorder. Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books.Google Scholar
  27. MacDougall, C., Schiller, W., & Darbyshire, P. (2009). What are our boundaries and where can we play? Perspectives from eight- to ten-year-old Australian metropolitan and rural children. Early Child Development and Care, 179, 189–204. doi:10.1080/0304430802667021.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Matthews, H., Taylor, M., Sherwood, K., Tucker, F., & Limb, M. (2000). Growing-up in the countryside: Children and the rural idyll. Journal of Rural Studies, 16, 141–153. doi:10.1016/S0743-0167(99)00059-5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. McCurdy, L. E., Winterbottom, K. E., Mehta, S. S., & Roberts, J. R. (2010). Using nature and outdoor activity to improve children’s health. Current Problems in Pediatric and Adolescent Health Care, 5, 102–117. doi:10.1016/j.cppeds.2010.02.003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Milligan, C., & Bingley, A. F. (2007). Restorative places or scary spaces? The impact of woodland on the mental well-being of young adults. Health and Place, 13, 799–811. doi:10.1016/j.healthplace.2007.05.005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Moore, R. C. (1986). Childhood’s domain: Play and place in child development. London: Croom Helm.Google Scholar
  32. Mulder, C., Shibli, S., & Hale, J. (2005). Young people’s demand for countryside recreation: A function of supply, tastes and preferences? Managing Leisure, 10, 106–127. doi:10.1080/13606710500146225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Norman, M. E., Gerarda Power, N., & Dupré, K. (2011). Playing in the woods: Youth, leisure and the performance of gender relations in rural Newfoundland. Annals of Leisure Research, 14, 155–175. doi:10.1080/11745398.2011.615713.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Outdoor Foundation. (2014). Outdoor participation report 2014. Washington, DC: The Outdoor Foundation.Google Scholar
  35. Owens, P. E., & McKinnon, I. (2009). In pursuit of nature: The role of nature in adolescents’ lives. Journal of Developmental Processes, 4, 43–58.Google Scholar
  36. Riney-Kehrberg, P. (2005). Childhood on the farm: Work, play, and coming of age in the Midwest. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press.Google Scholar
  37. Riney-Kehrberg, P. (2014). The nature of childhood: An environmental history of growing up in America since 1865. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press.Google Scholar
  38. Schenker, H. M. (2009). Melodramatic landscapes: Urban parks in the nineteenth century. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press.Google Scholar
  39. Seaman, J., & McLaughlin, S. (2014). The importance of outdoor activity and place attachment to adolescent development in Coös county, New Hampshire. University of New Hampshire: The Carsey Institute at the Scholars’ Repository. Paper 208. http://scholars.unh.edu/carsey/208
  40. Shaw, B., Watson, B., Frauendienst, B., Redecker, A., Jones, T., & Hillman, M. (2013). Children’s independent mobility: A comparative study in England and Germany (1971–2010). London: Policy Studies Institute.Google Scholar
  41. Shoard, M. (1980). The theft of the countryside. London: Temple Smith.Google Scholar
  42. Smith, F., & Barker, J. (2001). Commodifying the countryside: The impact of out‐of‐school care on rural landscapes of children’s play. Area, 33, 169–176. doi:10.1111/1475-4762.00020.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Tranter, P., & Pawson, E. (2001). Children’s access to local environments: A case study of Christchurch, New Zealand. Local Environment, 6, 27–48. doi:10.1080/13549830120024233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Vadala, C. E., Bixler, R. D., & James, J. J. (2007). Childhood play and environmental interests: Panacea or snake oil? The Journal of Environmental Education, 39, 3–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Valentine, G. (1997). A safe place to grow up? Parenting, perceptions of children’s safety and the rural idyll. Journal of Rural Studies, 13, 137–148. doi:10.1016/S0743-0167(97)83094-X.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Valentine, G., & McKendrick, J. (1997). Children’s outdoor play: Exploring parental concerns about children’s safety and the changing nature of childhood. Geoforum, 28, 219–235. doi:10.1016/S0016-7185(97)00010-9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. van Heezik, Y., Freeman, C., Porter, S., & Dickinson, K. J. M. (2013). Garden size, householder knowledge, and socio-economic status influence plant and bird diversity at the scale of individual gardens. Ecosystems, 16, 1442–1454. doi:10.1007/s10021-013-9694-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. van Heezik, Y. M., Freeman, C., Porter, S., & Dickinson, K. J. M. (2014). Native and exotic woody vegetation communities in domestic gardens in relation to social and environmental factors. Ecology and Society, 19, 17. doi:10.5751/ES-06978-190417.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Vanderbeck, R. M., & Dunkley, C. M. (2003). Young people’s narratives of rural-urban difference. Children’s Geographies, 1, 241–259. doi:10.1080/14733280302192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Veitch, J., Bagley, S., Ball, K., & Salmon, J. (2006). Where do children usually play? A qualitative study of parents’ perceptions of influences on children’s active free-play. Health & Place, 12, 383–393. doi:10.1016/j.healthplace.2005.02.009.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Ward, C. (1990). The child in the city (New edition). London: Bedford Square Press.Google Scholar
  52. Ward Thompson, C., Travlou, P., & Roe, J. (2006). Free-range teenagers: The role of wild adventure space in young people’s lives. Final report. Edinburgh: Natural England.Google Scholar
  53. Wells, N. M., & Lekies, K. S. (2006). Nature and the life course: Pathways from childhood nature experiences to adult environmentalism. Children Youth and Environments, 16, 1–24.Google Scholar
  54. West, E. (1989). Growing up with the country: Childhood on the far western frontier. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.Google Scholar
  55. Wheway, R., & Millward, A. (1997). Child’s play: Facilitating play on housing estates. Coventry: Chartered Institute of Housing.Google Scholar
  56. Witten, K., Kearns, R., Carroll, P., Asiasiga, L., & Tava’e, N. (2013). New Zealand parents’ understandings of the intergenerational decline in children’s independent outdoor play and active travel. Children’s Geographies, 11, 215–229. doi:10.1080/14733285.2013.779839.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Yousefian, A., Ziller, E., Swartz, J., & Hartley, D. (2009). Active living for rural youth: Addressing physical inactivity in rural communities. Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, 15, 223–231. doi:10.1097/PHH.0b013e3181a11822.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Environment and Natural ResourcesThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA

Personalised recommendations