Let’s Celebrate! We’ve Reached 300 Certified Nature Explore Classrooms.

By Lana Gilson, Nature Explore Outreach Coordinator

NE_LOGO w brtag.color [Converted01]Congratulations to our amazing network of 300 Certified Nature Explore Classrooms!

Throughout the recent years, we have witnessed the growth and transformation in playgrounds and outdoor areas throughout our nation.  Our Certified Nature Explore Classroom network contains committed and enthusiastic people who want to provide an environment in which children can freely explore nature.  Our champions have many reasons for creating outdoor spaces that connect children to nature on a daily basis, but one reason we hear over and over is that they were allowed to develop a love for nature in early childhood and they want to make sure that the next generation has that same opportunity. The stories submitted by our certified classrooms have inspired us to continue this life-changing work of helping organizations create nurturing, nature filled spaces.

Certification is just a starting point, a celebration!  It is the recognition of hard work, determination and commitment that have led your site to make a difference in the way children learn. These spaces do not just pop up overnight. They can be the culmination of years of fundraising, volunteer work days, and maybe even of trying to create a team of stakeholders or educators that truly understand the amazing benefits of time spent in a space where each child is enabled to use their imagination and creativity in a way that is meaningful to them.  The following is a beautiful quote from one of our classrooms that I really love:

“Our outdoor classroom will never be finished; it will continually evolve as we discover ways both to enhance children’s learning and to create areas of enchantment.” 

This quote is so true! Certified Nature Explore Classrooms are always changing and growing. One year they may find deeper ways to involve the community, staff, parents and children.  The next year, a fallen tree may produce a log of interest for the Messy Materials Area, or someone may donate more plants, trees or loose parts.  Don’t wait until your space is “perfect” to certify. Each of our classrooms share their personal success stories through initial certification, and yearly recertification allows them to highlight what has happened in their space throughout the year.

If you are just starting your journey or have a space already started, I recommend the Learning With Nature Idea Book to guide you through the research-based standards and guiding principles that are the core of our certification.  A glance at our Certified Classroom pages will provide inspiration and give ideas from our network.  We are always available to answer your questions and to support you, so feel free to contact us. Your journey is just beginning!