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Nurturing environmental stewards through preschool physical design


Report provides guidance on how preschools can be used to nurture environmental stewards among Malaysian children

The purpose of this literature review was to explore how preschools can be used to nurture environmental stewards among Malaysian children. A unique aspect of this review is that it includes studies done in Malaysia, as well as other locales, and addresses local Malaysian issues relating to young children’s interactions with the environment. It also discusses ways in which design approaches implemented in other countries might be used in Malaysia.

For this review, both quantitative and qualitative studies from various disciplines were identified and critically analyzed. Three objectives guided the study: (1) To examine the impact of the natural environment on children’s education; (2) To assess the current efforts of Malaysian preschools to accommodate environmental education; and (3) To discuss how elements of the preschool physical environment can be manipulated to nurture environmental stewardship.

Findings from this review indicate that children’s engagement with natural environments positively impact their development and promote caring for the environment. Across numerous studies, findings emphasize the idea that effective interactions with nature are the most important factor to ensure environmental awareness. Also emphasized is the importance of the preschool years for promoting affinity to, empathy for, and a sense of belonging to the natural world.

Still lacking in Malaysia, however, are efforts to foster ‘greener’ preschools. This is especially true in urban areas and among government preschools. This review calls for increased attention to early childhood environmental education and offers some guidance on how to promote young children’s engagement with the natural environment. Authors include ideas about how to manipulate such landscape elements as vegetation and topography to maximize children’s interaction with nature. Ideas are also offered about how to incorporate plants and other elements of nature indoors in a way that provides comfort, increases natural lighting, is energy efficient, and ensures good indoor air quality and ventilation.

Findings from this review, the authors note, can be used by Malaysian designers and policy makers to ensure that the physical settings of preschools support the goals of environmental education.


Shaari, M.F., Ahmad, S.S., Ismail, I.S., (2016). Nurturing environmental stewards through preschool physical design. Environment-Behaviour Proceedings Journal, 1(3), 9-10.


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