Preschooler's perceptions of a patio garden Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/ht24wn44d

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  • This study sought to fill a void in research literature supporting Attention Restoration Theory (ART) and the beneficial effects of exposure to natural, green spaces. The literature predominantly discusses studies with adult and older child participants, finding that exposure to natural environments often produces an attention-restoring effect. ART has been studied for effects among adult and adolescent populations; children over age seven have largely been excluded. Participants in this study were preschoolers aged 3-5 years. They were exposed in three conditions to a maze task to focus their attention and then alternately asked (1) to sit quietly, (2) look out a window and describe the view, and (3) to sit on a bench in a patio garden. After each exposure condition, they repeated the maze task to determine their perceptions and reactions to the garden space. Children were randomly selected to begin their interviews in each of the three conditions. Qualitative analysis of their responses revealed expressions of positive regard and interest in the patio garden being provided only when they sat in it. Describing the view out the classroom window, they listed slightly more natural than built elements; when sitting in the garden they talked more about natural than built elements. They appeared to remain focused on indoor activities in Conditions 1 and 2 and more focused on external or outdoor activities in Condition 3 (sitting in the garden). In research adults commonly report feelings of relaxation when viewing a garden, the children in this sample did not appear to be affected in any way by viewing it distally. Only when immersed in it did they indicate enjoyment of it. This suggests that children may perceive and experience space differently than adults do.
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