There have been calls to reconnect children with nature, both for their own wellbeing, as well as for ecological sustainability. This has driven the growth of outdoor and nature-schools for all ages, but especially in the early childhood education sector. However, to date, there has not been a quantitative study that looks at whether these settings actually promote nature connection. This paper aims to examine the role of nature nurseries in the promotion of connection to nature, when compared to traditional nurseries. Data were collected on the nature connection, using the Connection to Nature Index for Parents of Preschool Children, of 216 children aged 1–8 years, 132 of whom attended nature nurseries while the rest attended traditional nurseries. Duration and frequency of attendance, sex, and parental nature connection were also reported. Statistical analyses were conducted for overall nature connection scores, individual dimension sub-scores and, for the children who attended nature nursery, against predictors. Results indicate that attending a nature nursery is associated with higher nature connection. Predictors for children’s connection to nature were parental nature connection, and total time spent in attendance of an outdoor nursery. This suggests a dose-response style relationship between attendance and nature connection. Implications for real-life applications are put forward and further research directions are explored.
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