Nature Explore at NAEYC 2014

By Cory Kibler, Marketing Assistant with the Nature Explore Program


Once again, Nature Explore was honored to send team members to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Conference and Expo Nov. 5–8 in Dallas, and it was a joy to interact with so many advocates for early education.

By all accounts, the conference was a success—our booth and our sessions were well-attended; we reconnected with old friends and made new ones; and, best of all, we were amazed by what we learned.

30 million. That’s the number of words a child should hear by the age of three to achieve successful literacy in their lives. However, it’s not easy; these words have to be heard at school and at home. That means it’s everyone’s job to impart language to our children. The good news is that, when children are engaged in outdoor classroom activities—building, moving, making music, creating art, exploring, and interacting—the words come freely. In an outdoor classroom, children have direct experiences with new concepts and vocabulary words. For example, a child is much more apt to learn the concept of plant growth after caring for the plants themselves.

Three years. That’s about how long we’ve been noticing a major shift in the enthusiasm and acceptance of outdoor learning environments. In other words, educators are looking at the research, observing outdoor classrooms for themselves, and looking outside traditional models to find solutions for behavioral issues, child health and wellness, and a host of other challenges. And, more and more, these educators are finding that outdoor classrooms tackle these issues head-on.

Plentiful. That describes the number of connections we forge (and renew) each time we visit NAEYC. Our dedicated network of partners includes Keep America Beautiful, Alliance for Childhood, Community Playthings, Lakeshore Learning, Project Learning Tree, Bright Horizons, Workforce Solutions, Collaboration for Children, National Head Start, the NAAEE Natural Start Alliance, and several more.

One. It only takes one thing—one idea, one educator, one parent, or even one child—to change the way we talk about education. If you have an idea of how to better connect our children with nature, start a dialogue; talk to your peers, tell your administrators, or reach out to us to begin a conversation. It may very well lead to real change.

Join the conversation. What have you learned recently about children and nature?