Two Three-Dimensional Families
By Dexter Lane, Nature Explore Consultant
Heather and Kipper, of Lincoln, Nebraska, have three girls. All graduated from Dimensions Early Education Programs, with its Certified Nature Explore Outdoor Classrooms. They attend Sheridan Elementary School– which also has a Certified Nature Explore Classroom, thanks, in part to Heather’s advocacy.
Jennifer and Lateef, of Lincoln, also have three girls. One is a current student at Dimensions. The other two, graduates of Dimensions, attend Prescott Elementary. You can probably see where this is going- Prescott also has a Certified Nature Explore Classroom, and you don’t even have to guess who advocated for it.
Jennifer and Heather are passionate advocates of outdoor learning because they quickly saw is benefits for their children in the Dimensions Early Education Programs. But working so their children could continue the experience during their elementary school years is only part of this story.
Jennifer started volunteering at Dimensions while her first child was there. She is now on staff, handling fundraising and events. Her children all continue spending creative time outdoors apart from school. All are nature and research-minded, she says. For their last family vacation, the children packed binoculars, clipboards and writing materials. When they spotted a rafter of wild turkeys near their cabin, they carefully documented the experience in words and drawings. Just last year they asked for new clipboards from Santa.
Heather was so moved by her first daughter’s experience at Dimensions that she and her husband constructed a Nature Explore inspired playscape in their backyard. Built years ago, it is still actively used by all three girls. But that wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough that her own children and their friends got the benefits of outdoor exploration. Heather envisioned her church with an Outdoor Classroom, knowing it would draw young families and neighbors to the congregation. That vision is now a reality. Saint Matthews Episcopal Church in Lincoln, Nebraska now has an exquisitely designed Outdoor Classroom. While advocating for this space at the church, Heather was also on the committee to develop one at Sheridan Elementary School.
What accounts for the extraordinary measures of devotion that Jennifer and Heather have shown? What accounts for elementary teachers saying that children who have grown up in Nature Explore Classrooms are unusually advanced across many learning domains? Why do more and more faith communities look to Nature Explore Outdoor Classrooms to enhance what they offer?
If you are an old friend of Nature Explore you already know the answers. If you are new to our blog, welcome, and please come back often. Share your stories here and see how other who have advocated for Nature Explore Classroom in their school or community.