Nature-based early childhood education for child health, wellbeing and development : a mixed-methods systematic review protocol

Johnstone, Avril and McCrorie, Paul and Cordovil, Rita and Fjørtoft, Ingunn and Iivonen, Susanna and Jidovtseff, Boris and Lopes, Frederico and Reilly, John J. and Thomson, Hilary and Wells, Valerie and Martin, Anne (2020) Nature-based early childhood education for child health, wellbeing and development : a mixed-methods systematic review protocol. Systematic Reviews, 9 (1). 226. ISSN 2046-4053

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    Background: Several systematic reviews have reviewed the evidence relating to nature on aspects of children and adolescent's health and wellbeing; however, none have looked at the associations or effectiveness of attending nature-based early childhood education (ECE). The main objective is to systematically review and synthesise the evidence to determine if nature-based ECE enhances children's health, wellbeing and development. Methods: We will search the following electronic databases (from inception onwards): MEDLINE, Scopus, PsycINFO, ERIC, SportDiscus, Australian Education Index, British Education Index, Child Development and Adolescent studies, and Applied Social Sciences Index and Abstracts. Grey literature will be identified searching dissertations and reports (e.g. Open Grey, Dissertations Theses Database [ProQuest], and Google Scholar). All types of studies (quantitative and qualitative) conducted in children (aged 2-7 years old) attending ECE who had not started education at primary or elementary school will be included. The exposure of interest will be nature-based ECE settings that integrate nature into their philosophy and/or curriculum and environment. The outcomes of interest will be all aspects of the child's physical, cognitive, social and emotional health wellbeing and development. Two reviewers will independently screen full-Text articles. The study methodological quality (or bias) will be appraised using appropriate tools. If feasible, a meta-Analysis will be conducted using a random-effect model for studies similar in exposure and outcome. Where studies cannot be included in a meta-Analysis, findings will be summarised based on the effect directions and a thematic analysis will be conducted for qualitative studies. Discussion: This systematic review will capture the state of the current literature on nature-based ECE for child health, wellbeing and development. The results of this study will be of interest to multiple audiences (including researchers and policy makers). Results will be published in a peer-reviewed journal. Gaps for future research will be identified and discussed. Systematic review registration: PROSPERO CRD42019152582