Document Type : Original Research Paper


Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning, Shahid Rajaei Teacher Training University, Tehran, Iran


Background and Objective:The child's healthy development is the path to achieving the necessary abilities to guide him to adulthood and participation in the mature life of the society. Child development includes biological, psychological, and emotional changes that occur from birth to adolescence. Neuronal pathways in the brain develop in childhood through the movement and stimulation of the senses, indicating the importance of daily experiences, social interaction, and physical activity of young children for their socio-emotional, physical, and linguistic development. More than half of the world's population now lives in urban areas. In the past, children spent most of their free time outdoors; this time was spent on activities in informal spaces, without monitoring and, in other words, unstructured. These spaces in ancestral life were the pure ancestral nature and the neighborhood, which has been an important place for children to play throughout the history all across the world. Yet, today's children spend most of their free time indoors, and most of their time outdoors in scheduled and structured activities. Children’s opportunities to have free and independent experience (the main prerequisite of natural learning) in outdoor space have declined in urban environments. Former research acknowledges the role of parents’ perception of safety. On the other hand, large cities have witnessed an unprecedented isolation from natural elements and processes. In this study, 3 to 12 years old children’s behavior was mapped in a Kavikonj Nature School, and the results were elaborated with staff interviews.
Methods:. The behavior observation method was combined with the mapping of the GIS map to create a database of environment-behavior interactions that is directly related to spatial patterns. The initial stage included initial site observations to examine the main areas of observation and view of all sections of the site. Based on this, the site was divided into several areas for viewing, to make sure that each round of observations includes all sections of the site. Detailed data collection included systematic observations of all sections of the site in multiple and different situations. The observer observed all the desired ranges, which was in fact a 9-minute visual scan of all ranges. These observations were supplemented by additional data, including children's names, the intensity of their activity (static, moderate, and severe), and the elements involved in children's behavior. Weather conditions - temperature, wind, humidity, and sunlight - were recorded for each observation round. Then, to better understand children's behavior and interpret observations, a group-foused interview was conducted with six facilitators (the most experienced) at school.
Findings: Our observations revealed some patterns of children’s behavior; while interviews revealed that children’s “imagination” is the foremost driver of their spatial choices and movements. We argue that children’s right to their everyday spaces should be acknowledged based on their own natural rhythms.
Conclusion: Early findings suggest that the immediate spaces of "home" or "representation of the home," which we call "extension of the house," are of great importance to young children, where they spend most of their time and return many times during their long journeys. Further findings could help our knowledge of the environmental aspects of children's motor development. In addition, these findings will provide implications for the design of children's centers, and more importantly, housing in which children live, and are supposed to be the main source of community sense for them to make friends and establish their first true social connections.


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