In this chapter, a review of literature relevant with young children and environmental issues were presented. In the first section, early childhood education that revealed the importance of early years in development was presented. The second section was about the need for environmental education in early childhood. In this section, firstly environmental education was introduced and then the rationale to start environmental education in early years was reported. In the third section, issues about environment and young children were reflected. In this section, environmental attitudes and factors that affect environmental attitudes were mentioned. And the final section described environmental education in early childhood education in Turkey.
Early Childhood Education
Improvement in neuroscience research has made valuable contributions to the research area of early childhood education (Begley, 1996; Dalto & Bergen, 2007; Morrison, 2001). Current studies conducted about brain and cognitive development and so increasing knowledge about brain science became pioneer for all other improvements in early childhood education (Chugani, 1996; Harvey, 1999; Nuthbrown, 2006; Rushton & Rushton, 2008). Brain research proposed that there is a positive correlation between high quality stimulation and the synapses development that forms specific areas of the brain (Wasserman, 2007). For example, children who are provided opportunity to have interaction with natural environment will probably have a sense and respect of animals and plants (Gardner, 1993). On the other hand, if children are provided inferior stimulation during early years, synapses development will delay; hence, the brain will have fewer cellular connections. Indeed, children' emotional, intellectual and social skills should be supported in critical years of life to make them reveal optimal stage of their lifelong potential (Rushton & Larkin, 2001).
With reference to the rapid increase in the development of the number of synapses between neurons in early childhood and the importance of critical periods when sensory and motor systems in the brain require experience for maximum development (Healy, 2004); recent scientific researches disclose that babies and young children are born with the capacity to understand a lot more than was previously thought to be the case. In other words, it is understood that the earlier children are taught the more they learn and the early years are regarded as the critical period when the most significant developments occurred in a person's life (KaÄŸÄ±tçÄ±baÅŸÄ±, Sunar, Bekman, 2001; Mustard, 2000; Nuthbrown, 2006; Stopek, 1993).
This point is valuable to reveal effect of enriched environments on children's capability to learn (Ormrod, 2008; Scott, 2004). Enriched environments including educational experiences alter brain structure and this process enhances whole developmental domains of young children (Parnell, 1996; Tileston, 2005). On this account, early childhood education that provides a variety of learning environments for young children plays a key role in the critical period in which the most significant developments occurred in a person' life. Moreover, the main aim of the early childhood education is to enhance cognitive, language, social- emotional, psychical, and psycho- motor and personal development of children who are less than eight years of. It's a systematic and planned education process and intends to reveal existing potential of children (Dever, 2008; Gordon & Browne, 2007; Morrisson, 2001).
In early childhood education environments, children are provided many learning opportunities that enhance their multi-facet development (Clark & Waller, 2007; Miller, 2006; Morrison, 2006; Spodek, 1993). Relevant literature provides a number of evident to support this claim. Recent studies about effects of early childhood education programs on cognitive development indicated that early childhood education and care enhance children's cognitive development in both short and long term (Krajewski, Renner, Nieding, & Schneider, 2008; Pauen & Pahnke, 2008). Additionally, positive outcomes of early childhood education on social- emotional development were reported (Jacobsen & Hofmann, 1997; Niles, 2004). Similarly relevant literature introduced valuable affects of early childhood education on language and literacy development (Torgesen & Burgess, 1998; Wasik & Bond, 2001).
In a similar way, young children are in receptive period for personality development. Individuals develop their basic values, attitudes, skills, behaviors and habits, which may be long lasting, in early years of life. Since early childhood education consists of bases for intellectual, psychological, emotional, social and physical development and lifelong learning, it has an enormous potential in fostering values, attitudes, skills and behaviors that support environmental issues (Basile, 2000; Biriukova, 2005; Davis, 1998).
The Need for Environmental Education in Early Childhood
2.2.1 Environmental Education
Environmental problems are the biggest challenge of society in twenty first century (Sloep & Blowers, 1996). A variety of environmental problems now affect our entire world. Some of these problems that threats the world are water shortages, soil exhaustion, loss of forests, air and water pollution, degradation of coastlines, acid rain, global warming, hazardous waste, ozone depletion, overpopulation, and rain forest destruction (Palmer, 1997; Thompson, 1997). Environmental problems are not only problems of technology and industry, of ecology and biology but also they are also problems of society. Humans are not only the major creators of environmental problems but also who have the key role in solving them (Environmental Problems and Society, 2004; Gardner & Stern, 1996). In the 21th century, humankind has extensively utilized a variety of technological improvement and economical advance. At the same time, they face a variety of threats such as energy shortage, forest destruction, animals and plant extinction, pollution and urbanization problems (Scoullus & Malotidi, 2004). For this reason, environmental problems have become one of the biggest challenges of this century in all over the world (UNESCO, 1977; UNESCO, 1992). These environmental problems effecting today and future of 7 billion people have evoked governments to make cooperation about facing environmental challenges for years.
The modern approach for struggling environmental problems has started since 1970. Twenty million people across America celebrated the first earth day on April 22 and The National Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) was founded in the following year. In 1972, the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment was held in Stockholm and introduced Recommendation 96 that addressed environmental issues worldwide calling for provision of environmental education.
1975 was the year of Belgrade Charter that outlined basic structure of environmental education. As a precise mean, goals, objectives, and guiding principles of environmental education were described in Tbilisi. The proposal of the Intergovernmental Conference that was held by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in cooperation with the United Nations Environment Program has still guided many environmental educators today. Environmental problems and role of education in solving environmental problems were pointed out in the first Intergovernmental Conference on Environmental Education convened by UNESCO was held in Tbilisi in October 1977 (UNESCO, 1977). In Tbilisi Conference, it was emphasized that environmental education should be integrated all grades of formal and non- formal education. In the well- known Tbilisi Conference (1977), aims of environmental education were defined as following:
to foster clear awareness of, and concern about, economic social, political and ecological interdependence in urban and rural areas;
to provide every person with opportunities to acquire the knowledge, values, attitudes, commitment and skills needed to protect and improve the environment;
to create new patterns of behavior of individuals, groups and society as a whole towards the environment.
After 15 years later than Tbilisi, United Nations Conference on Environment and Development that was held in Rio de Janerio, Brazil on June 1992 and introduced Agenda 21. Agenda 21 addressed major environmental issues of today's world and provides guides to the global community to be prepared for the challenges of the new century (UNEP; 1992).
Agenda 21 referred changing consumption patterns and dealt with energy consumption, environmental protection, and waste management.
In the Agenda 21, "freshwater" was addressed as one of the most critical environmental issues that the planet faces in this century. Protection of the quality and supply of freshwater resources, management and use of water resources, freshwater shortages, and water pollution has been significant in the field of Agenda 21 (UNEP, 1992).Water resources have major environmental and economical importance. Excessive water use cause many environmental problems.
Similarly, energy consumption is also a hot topic of environmental concern.
Agenda 21 endorsed by The United Nations Conference addressed a variety of environmental issues including energy. The energy related goals and activities in Agenda 21 focused on improving electricity production and consumption efficiencies (Executive Summary of ESCWA Briefing Paper No. 2, n.d). The electricity sector is considered as one of the major pressures to the environment. Since it is the most polluting energy-related activity, it was aimed to reduce the growth rates of primary electricity consumption and to improve the efficiency of electric power plants, as well as electricity transmission and distribution efficiencies (UNEP, 1992).
Another, issue referred in Agenda 21 was deforestation (UNEP, 1992). Bearing in mind consumption habits of people in this century, paper use that is a fundamental part of life may be regarded as first. Each year, the world produces more than 300 million tons of paper. Thus to produce a single sheet of paper, hundreds of trees from around the world are destroyed. Moreover, paper manufacturing requires use of chemicals, energy and water (Resource Alliance, n.d). In summary, since paper consumption diminishes natural resources and increases greenhouse gases (GHGs) in Earth's atmosphere, people should reduce unnecessary paper consumption in order to limit negative impacts of paper production on the ecosystem, such as forest
destruction and use of chemical products. Therefore, paper use should be limited and recycled paper should be used (UNEP, 1992)
With relevant to changing consumption patterns of people, Agenda 21 promoted conversation and management of resources for development and referred recycling and reusing of waste. Encouragement of public awareness for reducing, reusing and recycling wastes was also addressed (UNEP, 1992)
Report of The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (1992) also mentioned the importance of environmental protection issues. The natural environment with all components is threatened by human activities. As a result of humankinds' living habits, biodiversity corrupts and this corruption harms to human mostly. For instance, people usually deprive of natural areas to live. Therefore, the main goal of the objectives and activities in the relevant chapters of Agenda 21 is to improve the environmental protection. One of the recommendations of Agenda 21 (1992) was to promote positive attitudes towards environmental issues as mentioned above.
Similar with Tbilisi Declaration (1978), Rio Conference (1998) proposed the critical importance of environmental attitudes on struggling environmental problems. Another common point of these two declarations is their consensus on environmental education.
Environmental education provides educators a variety of opportunities to guide learners. These environmental education sources help learners from all ages gain knowledge, explore values and develop attitudes about life and world. Moreover, individuals learn how to question and analyze an issue; how to solve a problem; and how to develop personal responsibility to feel responsible for environment (Monroe, Andrews & Biedenweg, 2007)
What's more, environmental education is regarded as the key tool of strengthening environmental attitudes. In other words, these recommendations promote environmental education to enhance human' environmental attitudes and behaviors. The way of strengthening positive attitudes towards environmental issues, environmental education is suggested to be integrated into all disciplines and all levels of education starting from early childhood.
2.2.2 Environmental Education in Early Childhood
Environmental education in early childhood is two- fold. First and foremost, enriched child development is influenced by healthy interactions with environment. Last but not least, early childhood years are sensitive to adopt positive environmental attitudes (Wilson, 1998). In the light of the literature, it is possible to point out the linkage between environmental education and early childhood education.
The roots of environmental education in early childhood go back to Jean- Jacques Rousseau who introduced the term "naturalism". Rousseau recommended that education should based on nature, include a sense of environment, and utilize opportunities of nature (McCrea, 2006). According to Rousseau, the interaction between nature and people is the source of healthy development and education is the tool of this process. Rousseau stated that natural education encourages happiness, spontaneity and curiosity and children learn best in enriched environments. In addition, Rousseau thought that the school settings should be integrated into natural environment to meet children's needs providing them opportunities to have experiences with concrete materials. According to Rousseau children really learn only from first hand interaction (Gordon & Browne, 2007).
On the side of constructivism, Piagetian theory proposed that children learn actively by manipulating their environment and construct knowledge with hands on experiences. His theory was regarded as environmental since he believed that experiences with enriched environments that children have will directly influence how they develop (Essa, 2005). In other words, children derive their reality by exploring world; and they create their beliefs, values, and attitudes (Piaget, 1947). This construction process proceeds based on a sequence that Piaget described in four general stages. Early childhood years fits preoperational stage of Piaget's cognitive theory. Children in this stage are dominated by egocentrism that means to see everything from one's own perspective. In preoperational stage children may have difficulty to grasp meaning of anything except themselves (Thomas, 2005)
On the side of Social Cognitive Theory; Bandura highlighted the relationship between interaction with environment and development. According to Bandura, children's learning is influenced by experiences and observations. In other words, what people see and experience forms their development (Bandura, 1986). In other words, humans development enhance through observation and performance. Beside cognitive and personal factors, environmental surroundings affect the children's learning process.
Similar with Piaget and Bandura, John Dewey promoted learning by doing. He stressed the value of experience on education (Dewey, 1938). As a follower of Dewey' progressive education movement, Reggio Emilia regarded environment as third teacher and believed its' valuable role in early childhood education (Morrison, 2001).
Brofenbrenner also valued environment and emphasized crucial role of children's social and physical settings in their development. Children's development is greatly dominated by forces outside them (Gordon & Browne, 2007). According to Brofenbrenner, settings such as climate, space, home, school and playground, in which a child spends time, and the relationship with those settings, as well as the social structures like family, culture and the larger society influence and supports children's development (Thomas, 2005).
As proposed, healthy child development and enriched learning experiences require positive and hands on interaction with environment. Environment is an outdoor classroom that enhances children's development (Dinçer, 2005). Dealing happily with animals, plants, flowers, water, the land, wind, etc. enrich their learning process and evoke their curiosity and interests.
In this regard, Davis (1998) evaluated environmental education in three approaches: Education in, about, and for the environment. Education in environment refers to direct experiences with environment. To illustrate, exploration in the outdoor like caring animals and plants, observing variations in weather; water and sand play like making objects by mud; field trips like walking in a rainy day are the examples of activities concerning environmental education. These education activities are also activities that is integrated and practiced in early childhood education (MONE, 2006). Similarly, education in environment aims to enhance positive feelings and attitudes toward nature and natural elements, which are basic elements of a high-qualified early childhood education program (Davis, 1998).
Education about the environment includes basic terms and concepts about environmental issues focusing on mainly cognitive aspect (Scoullos& Maloditi, 2004). This process enhances necessary knowledge and understandings of environmental issues. In fact, ecological principles as the water cycle, the oxygen cycle, reducing-recycling- reusing, energy consumption patterns, how plants grow, the effect of detergents in streams, and the importance of clean water are some of the issues of education about environment. Young children should be provided opportunity to understand these concepts and their value for protecting world. For example, playing water is an amusing educational activity for children; however, children should be thought that clean water is a valuable and limited resource; therefore, children should not waste it.
As a further step, education for environment aims the development of necessary attitudes and behaviors toward environmental issues going beyond to acquire knowledge (Scoullos& Maloditi, 2004). Therefore, in early childhood education classrooms, it is not adequate only to talk about water conservation strategies but also practices about water consumption should be integrated into daily routines and educational activities. Hence, children can adapt environmental attitudes.
As reflected experiences with nature not only enhance their whole development of children but also help them recognize environment and develop positive attitudes towards environmental issues (Wilson, 1994).
Environmental Issues and Young Children
Attitudes related to environmental issues have been defined by Miller and Levine (1996, p.70) as "evaluative tendency regarding some feature of the environment and can typically be phrased in terms of like and dislike or favour and disfavour". In other words, "what a person believes, understands, and feels about something, as well as the person's behavior towards it, is the person's attitude" (Rogers, 2003, p. 177). Attitudes can be based on three different sources of information namely cognitive, affective, and behavioral domains (Roger, 2003). If an example is given based on this tripartite model of attitudes, attitudes toward environmental issues may be predicted by both what people believe (cognitive), what they feel (affective) and what they do (behavioral) (Pooley & O'Connor, 2000) .
According to Thompson and Barton (1994) there are two underlying reasons of environmental attitudes. One of them is ecocentrism that means to value nature for its own sake; and the other one is anthropocentrism that means to value nature for benefits of human. Eco-centric attitudes stand for plants and animals while anthropocentric attitudes based on human's benefits of nature. In other words, eco-centric point of view refers to protect environment as to value world itself and to propose that plants and animals have equal rights with human. On the other hand, anthropocentric point of view stands for benefits of human and pragmatically value environment. For example, people adopting anthropocentric point of view assume that energy should be consumed carefully because energy shortage decreases quality of life. Eco-centric individuals esteem nature for its own sake regardless of it' benefits for human. Conversely, anthropocentric individuals want to utilize benefits of nature to increase quality of life.
As Fishben and Ajzhen (1975) proposed attitudes are precursor of behaviors, Thompson and Barton (1994) claimed that eco-centric and anthropocentric attitudes are best determinants of environmental behavior. Indeed, eco-centric individuals have better connection with environment rather than anthropocentric individuals and they tend to behave in an environmentally friendly way.
In the literature, there are many studies (GrodziÅ„ska-Jurczak, StÄ™pska, Nieszporek, & Bryda, 2006; Musser& Malkus, 1994; Musser& Diamond, 1999.) that investigated attitudes toward environmental issues despite very few studies (Erten, 2009) conducted the underlying reason of attitudes. Most studies (GrodziÅ„ska-Jurczak, StÄ™pska, Nieszporek, & Bryda, 2006; Musser& Malkus, 1994; Musser& Diamond, 1999) did not report whether environmental attitudes are developed in favor of the environment or for the benefit of the people. To illustrate, Erten (2009) investigated that 82% of families warn their children to save energy at home. When the underlying reason was asked to families, they reported their economical concern in terms of expensive bills rather than environmental protection.
Environmental problems in terms of shortage of energy, environmental pollution and endangerment of living things will continue to threat not only all living things but also our planet. On the condition that anthropocentrism is not dominated, an ecological cries may arise that will not be possible to overcome (Biriukova, 2004).
Since early childhood is a receptive period for cognitive, social-emotional, and physical development, it has an enormous potential in creation of attitudes in early years. The first years of life are the most favorable ones for developing attitudes and values that form the basis of personality and consist of strong and permanent roots of entire life (Azjen, 2001; Birioukova, 1996& Nikeolava, 2001). According to Basile (2001), children start to recognize environment and develop attitudes toward environment beginning from preschool years Moreover, in the literature, it was reported that if children do not develop positive attitudes towards environmental issues in the early years of life, they have risks not to develop such attitudes later in life (Basile, 2000; Tilbury, 1994; Wilson, 1993; Wilson, 1994). Moreover, as highlighted in the literature, it is very difficult to alter negative environmental attitudes that were formed in early childhood. (Blatchford, 2009; Davis, 2009; Lubomira, 2004;Wilson, 1993). For this reason, it is important to force ecocentric attitudes of preschool children toward environmental issues.
Environmental education aims to bring up individuals who adopt ecocentric attitudes towards environmental issues; hence, environmental education in early childhood is the way of forming ecocentric environmental attitudes. Therefore, attitude development of preschool children towards environmental issues is a valuable rationale to start environmental education in early years.
Despite gaps in the relevant literature, studies support this claim as presented
Jeronen (2002) regarded environmental education as the key method of fostering positive attitudes toward environmental issues. Children who were enrolled in an environmental education program reflected their positive ideas about environmental issues. For example, 7-8 years old children told that they like flowers, trees, animals. In addition, in this study, children's attitudes toward environmental destruction and endangered animals reflected their anxiety about future of nature. Children (7-8 years old) talked about litter spread over the land and endangered animals, especially whales. Also, children described their interest in birds and their nests (Jeronen, 2002).
Robertson (2008) explored the effect of a nature preschool on children's attitudes towards environmental issues conducting a qualitative research. Participants of this study were 10-12 years old children who attended in the nature preschool education program when they were 4-5 years old. Researcher investigated that environmental attitudes of children were affected by the nature education program that they were enrolled in, even several years after leaving program.
Kidd and Kidd (1990) asserted the significance of childhood environmental education and experiences with animals on individuals' current attitudes towards environmental issues. Using the Pet Attitude Scale which was completed by 227 Japanese students and 174 British students, researchers investigated that pet ownership in childhood as well as contact with other animals had significant effect on current attitudes towards pets and other animals. Moreover, they found some differences between Japan and the UK: in childhood, and reported that the British students had had significantly more pets and more animal-related experiences, such as visiting animal shelters and livestock farms, than had the Japanese students. Their current attitudes were reported also to be more positive, and they were mentioned to show a greater interest in animal welfare issues than did the Japanese students. In addition, researchers reported that in both countries there was a positive association between childhood pet-keeping and current favorable attitudes to pets.
Bryant and Hungerford (1976) conducted an experimental research with 34 preschool children. Their purpose was to explore impact of environmental education on preschooler environmental concept. Researchers investigated that environmental education enhanced preschool children's concepts about environmental issues.
In another experimental study, Jaus (1984) A brief narrative description of the journal article, document, or resource.investigated positive effects of an intervention about environmental education on elementary school student's attitudes towards environmental issues. Children were given pre- and post-tests before and after receiving two hours of instruction related to environmental issues. In this study, it was reported that environmental attitudes of experimental group showed significantly more positive attitudes than control group. As a result of follow up study conducted after two years, children were evaluated as sustaining their positive attitudes towards environmental issues.
In Poland, early childhood environmental education research was cited in Domka (2004). Fratczak (1994) investigated 320 preschool children's environmental knowledge and investigated that 60 % of them had idea about environmental protection and these children were reported to name some plants and animals. In addition, these children were able to mention some of the rules of environmental protection like "do not pick flowers" "do not break branches" and "feed the birds".
Other research that cited in Domka (2004) revealed that every third preschool child reflected their pessimistic point of view about water consumption and they described their anxiety about a waterless world. In addition, these children were reported to desire to live where there are a plenty of plants and animals (Cybulska& Leszczynska, 1998 as cited in Domka, 2004).
Domka (2001) investigated children' attitudes towards animals and concluded that children did not like some animals like wolves, amphibians, reptiles and spiders and they thought that animals should always work for people. According to Domka (2001), children see the environment from the point of view of the human.
Palmer (1995) explored understandings of preschoolers about waste management. Results of Palmer's study revealed that 49% of 4-year-olds managed waste product and they collected them in an organized manner and also 23% of 4 years-old children knew about the concept of recycling and they had an idea what it means. The same study showed that 21 % of 6 years-old children recognized what materials are recycled or not. Furthermore, in another study, it was found that 89% percent of primary school children, who took environmental education, correctly defined the meaning of recycling (Strong, 1998).
Palmer, Grodzinska- Jurczak, and Suggate (2003) revealed that environmental education programs are effective on environmental attitudes towards reusing and recycling in a qualitative study. To illustrate, researchers conducted a cross- cultural study and compared the differences between English children who were enrolled in a structured environmental education program and their Polish accompanies who did not. In England interviews were conducted over a period of several years from 1994 to 2000 and a sample of 137 four-year-olds (65 girls and 72 boys) and 138 six-year olds, (63 girls, and 75 boys) were interviewed by researchers. In Poland, interviews were conducted in 2000 and 2001. The sample size was 95 four year- olds (43 girls and 52 boys) and 93 six-year-olds (47 girls and 46 boys). Researchers reported that participants were interviewed two times during research course and indicated that almost all of the children from the age of 4 in both countries explained that waste materials should not be thrown on the ground and could give a reasonable answer as to why this is so. A small number of Polish and English 6-year-olds thought it was impossible to use any again. The Polish children were reported to think about possible second uses with the object being unchanged in form whereas the English children were reported to be aware that the form of the object might be changed in a machine or factory.
2.3.2. Factors Effecting Environmental Attitudes during Early Childhood
In the literature there is little research investigating the factors that affects preschool children's attitudes towards environmental issues. In the following part, studies were presented that examined effecting factors of young children's environmental attitudes.
HaktanÄ±r and Çabuk (2000) investigated 4- 6 years old preschool children's perceptions and ideas about environmental issues. The research included 80 children from 12 private preschools. Researchers utilized a scale that were developed by the researchers and rated children's answers to 18 environmental problem cases. In the study, different statistical techniques were used to examine the effect of gender, age, and parental variables. According to results of this study, social economic status was found to be related to children's perceptions about environmental issues and the children belonged to upper social economical status were reported to be have higher scores on environmental perception. Environmental perception of children who had a sibling was found lower than single children. And children whose father had a job in private sector were evaluated as to have a more positive sense of environmental perception. The researchers reported the significant difference among children environmental perception. Children whose mother had a graduate degree scored higher than the others. Additionally, gender, age, family structure, mother's job, ages of parents, and father's academic background was found insignificant in terms of children's perceptions on environmental issues.
Similarly, Grodzinska- Jurczak, Stepska, Nieszporek and Bryda (2006), provided useful knowledge about preschool children's attitudes toward environment and environmental problems in Poland. The study covered 686 parents and 674 six year olds from 30 preschools. Researchers collected the data by using a questionnaire called Children's Attitudes toward Environment Scale- Preschool Version (CATES- PV). The results of the study showed that most of the children hold environmental friendly attitudes. Almost all of them were reported to be respectful toward animals and plants (95.7 %), careful about cleanliness of their surroundings (95.1 %), and mindful on saving water (95%). Moreover, the majority of them were reported to utilize old items (e.g. giving old toys to other children), help the animals in winter as well as many of them declared that save energy and paper. Also, 40.9 % of children used environmental friendly transportation and 30 % of them segregated waste at home. What's more, preschool children's attitudes toward environment were reported to be depended on their place of residence. In fact, most of the children (67.3%) having positive environmental attitudes were reported to live in rural area. As a result, this study revealed us Polish preschool children's attitudes toward environmental issues were relatively positive.
In the study from USA, Musser and Diamond (1999) developed and administered the scale called Children's Attitudes toward Environment Scale- Preschool Version (CATES- PV). Researchers administered the scale to 42 preschool children (25 girls and, 17 boys). Children's ages were reported to ranging from 40 to 37 months. The preschool program in which children enrolled was reported to have activities concerning animals and plant; however the program was mentioned not to include any structured environmental curriculum. The questionnaire was administered to each child by face to face conversation and results were reported by using frequency tables. The results indicated that children's attitudes towards environment were generally positive. In addition, cross- break tables were conducted in order to investigate relationship between children's attitudes and independent variables in terms of age and gender. As a result, while children's attitudes were moderately correlated with age, r (40) = 37, p<.01, their attitudes did not differ in relation to their gender, F (1, 40) = 2.41, (Ms= 2.87 and 2.97), for girls and boys respectively.
KesicioÄŸlu and AlisinanoÄŸlu (2008) conducted a study to introduce the natural environment experiences provided to the preschool children by their parents, and children's attitudes towards environmental issues. The study included 353 preschool children of 60-72 months, enrolling in preschools affiliated to the Ministry of National Education. Researchers utilized the Environmental Reaction Inventory as a scale and interpreted findings of the study at "0.05" significance level. Researchers conducted analyses by using the software "SPSS 15.0". Results of the study indicated that attitudes of the preschool children towards the environment do not differ based on residence in which they live, the education level of their parents, the income of the family, or the career of the parents (p>0.05). On the other hand, researcher found gender as a significant variable for their study (p<0.05).
Early Childhood Education and Environmental Education in Turkey
Up to this section, early childhood environmental education and its effect on environmental attitudes were presented. In this section, the existing situation in Turkey in terms of early childhood education and environmental education was introduced.
In Turkey, historical development of early childhood education (ECE) started at the beginning of nineteenth century and the first kindergarten was founded in 1915. Significance of ECE was accepted in 1961 with new education law and discussed as a separate branch in political debates. Early Childhood Education General Management (ECEGM) was founded in 1992 to implement the early childhood education programs and to meet the growing interest of society in early care and education. ECEGM is responsible for editing, supervising and conducting early childhood education (ECE) services (Oktay, 1999; Aktan, 2008).
In Turkey, early childhood education has not been compulsory up to 2010; however, there are some pilot studies to make compulsory early childhood education for six years old children (Derman& BaÅŸal, 2010). Preschool Education service is given by a variety of institutions such as Ministry of National Education, universities, and foundations (Akçay, 2008; Derman& BaÅŸal, 2010; MONE, 2006; UNESCO, 2006). Although both public and private preschools differ in terms of organizational and administrational issues, education programs are planned based on the national curriculum of preschool education.
The national preschool education curriculum was developed for 36- 72 mounts children. Four basic aims of this child- centered curriculum were referred as below: (MONE, 2006)
Enhancing children' physical, cognitive, and emotion development and supporting children to acquire good habits.
Preparing children elementary education
Creating equal opportunity for disadvantaged children
Supporting children to have an accurate and fluent Turkish.
The curriculum refers whole development of young children and includes objectives and acquisitions for each developmental domain. Educational activities are planned based on these objectives and acquisitions. Moreover, objectives and acquisitions of national early childhood education curriculum include themes to support environmental awareness of children and encourage them to use natural resources carefully. Examples of objectives and acquisitions that are related to environmental awareness are reflected below (MONE, 2006, p 27-28):
Social- Emotional Domain
Objective 9: Able to take responsibility in protecting and enriching life
Able to use carefully the resource
Able to obey rules
Able to take care of living rights of other living things
Able to take responsibility in caring and protecting of living things
Able to explain the shared life with living things
Objective 12: Able to conserve beauties in the environment
Able o say causes of conserving beauties in the environment
Able to explain necessities in order to conserve beauties in the environment
Able to take responsibility to protect beauties in the environment
Objective 13: Able to organize environment aesthetically
Able to give example for solutions of environmental problems
Able to organize environment in different ways
Able to give example to beautiful or disturbing conditions in the environment
In addition to objectives and acquisitions referred above, the national preschool curriculum had recommendations for environmental awareness and environmental education of preschool children. In the curriculum, it is indicated that natural environment provides children a variety of stimulants that enrich their development. Children can acquire several abilities and they can develop a positive sense of environment purely discovering nature (MONE, 2006).
Gülay and Ekici (2010) analyzed the National Curriculum of Preschool Education (2006) in terms of environmental education. The researchers analyzed objectives, acquisitions, concepts and special days referred in the curriculum and investigated roots of environmental education. They utilized the content analyze technique and consulted 23 randomly selected environmental education and early childhood education specialist to fulfill expert opinion form analyzing National Curriculum of Preschool Education. The expert opinion form that consisted of 3 parts and 421 items was developed by researchers and 23 experts rated items as "I agree", "I do not know", I do not agree". According to results of this study, objectives and acquisitions of psychomotor domain was revealed that among five objectives and 46 acquisitions, no one was related to environmental education. In a similar way, language domain did not refer any objectives and acquisitions about environmental education. On the other hand, 33% of social- emotional domain objectives and 24% of social- emotional domain acquisitions was reported as related to environmental education. Similarly, cognitive domain includes 24% of objectives and 12% of acquisitions about environmental education. Moreover, self- care domain includes 80% of objectives and 58% of acquisitions referring environmental education. When the concepts included in the national curriculum of preschool education were explored, it was concluded that 29% of concepts was about environmental education. As a final result of this study, it was referred that 26.3 % of special day and weeks was related to environmental education whereas little research explored environmental attitudes of preschool children was presented.
Referring national early childhood education curriculum in Turkey, it can be seen that the national early childhood education curriculum aims to equip preschool children with the attitudes, values, knowledge, and skills necessary to protect plant, animals, and environment and to integrate environmental education into early childhood education.
As a result of the above summarized state of the literature survey, one can inferred that, there is a growing interest in studies relevant with environmental issues and young children (Musser and Diamond, 1997); yet, relevant literature presents a gap. The preliminary survey (1996- 2007) of a number of international research journals in early childhood education and environmental education revealed that fewer than 5 % of the articles was published over a 12- year period (Davis, 2009). And the current situation in Turkey is in a need to be supplied by research. Therefore, the current study intends to fulfill the gap.