This project deals with children’s relation to the environment from actual and retrospective points of view, delineated by empirical research and by theoretical analysis. Among the findings was that almost all adults identify the most significant place in their childhood with the outdoors. The children’s preference of place is dependent on their personal needs on one hand, and on the properties of the place associated with these needs on the other.
Children experience the natural environment in a deep and direct manner, not as a background for events, but, rather, as a factor and stimulator. There is a connection between the quality of the child’s experience and the way it is engraved in memory as he or she matures:
- An experience in which the child is actively involved, with his body, his senses, and his awareness, is likely to be etched in memory for a long time;
- and (b) the sympathetic attitude the child displays toward nature is likely to accompany the experience even when recalled in memory. The theoretical analysis suggests that the environment which an adult remembers as significant in childhood was personally experienced without adult mediation and the related experiences were only found in childhood. The child’s sensory perception remains in adult memory as a central childhood experience because its relative importance is at its peak at this stage of life. The adult recalls the natural environment due to qualities that are substantially different from those of the man-made environment.