Trust the Child

By Dexter Lane, Nature Explore Consultant


You’re sitting at a table with three or four of your clients, discussing your proposed plans, getting nowhere.  Nothing but pushback.  You know that most people have varying difficulties accepting change; but this is different.  Feet dug-in.

What do you do when you know that your proposals would make worlds of difference to your clients, but they just can’t see it?  The old truism that people feel safer with what they know than venturing into the unknown applies here.  If your clients could just see what you are talking about…  What can you do?

If you are Tammy Beeman, owner operator of Grow With Me Home Childcare, in Lorain, Ohio, and your clients at the table are the children you serve, you let them see what you are talking about—in photos.  She did, and once the children “saw” what she meant by “outdoor classroom,” they understood quickly.  Parents came on board in a flash, and eagerly provided much of the work in getting Tammy’s now-certified Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom in place.

Shortly before her planning session with the children, Tammy had attended a workshop, where she was introduced to the Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom concept.  At this point Tammy had been providing home child care services for over a decade. She immediately embraced the outdoor classroom concept and intuitively understood the profound changes it would bring to the children, and to her.

Tammy’s first thoughts on discovering outdoor classrooms were, “I wanted it so badly.  I wanted to get rid of all the plastic.”  She understood that play with natural materials resonated with her own childhood, which had been filled with self-directed explorations in nature, supported by parents who gave her the freedom to solve problems on her own.  She trusted her own experience as an inspiration in creating an environment for the children.

As we’ve seen by Tammy’s involving the children in the planning of their outdoor classroom, she also trusts the children to have good ideas.  After reviewing photos of outdoor classrooms on Pinterest with the children, she used their ideas while developing the space.  Parents were instrumental in building the classroom, and all have been pleased by the results.

Tell us how you incorporate children’s ideas into you outdoor classroom and for more about Tammy’s experiences see next week’s post. Trust The Child Part Two.