Shaping space and practice to support autonomy: lessons from natural settings in Scotland
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Barrable, A. (2020) ‘Shaping space and practice to support autonomy: lessons from natural settings in Scotland’, Learning Environments Research, 23(3), pp. 291–305. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10984-019-09305-x.
In the present paper, I explore some of the concrete manifestation of autonomy support in natural childcare and early childhood education settings, under the organising framework of self-determination theory. More specifically, I present the ways in which early childhood educators shape the space of natural settings and use the affordances of the natural environment to promote autonomy in children aged 3–8 years. The practices presented are a result of direct observation in several Scotland-based outdoor settings, observations and organic conversations with educators in outdoor and forest kindergartens. Hopefully the practices and spaces presented in this paper can be of use by educators and setting managers who aim to support autonomous learning and intrinsic motivation in their pupils in outdoor natural early years’ settings.