Before we walk, we dance. Before we talk, we sing. Before we write, we draw. Expression, curiosity, wonder – these are our fundamental building blocks. We are constantly learning and growing as children, before we ever enter a classroom—we are given the tools we need to learn through nature. Before we learn, we play.

As a childcare professional, I’ve seen it all. As a mother, I have firsthand experience. My philosophy behind early childhood education wasn’t something that I started my professional career with. Actually, it’s only something that I’ve been discovering over the past few years. It all started when I found myself in a not so great situation that I couldn’t begin to comprehend. Why? How? Is there something that I could’ve done to prevent this? We’ve all been there, I won’t get into the specifics, but I’m sure you can all relate to a situation that you’ve been in sometime in your career that just hits you like dodgeball to the face. Yeah, we’ve all been there. So I found myself asking – why? And most importantly, what can I do to make a difference?

I started looking into ways to create an environment that would benefit both the teacher, and the child. A way for the child to be themselves, unapologetically – and for the teacher to teach based on the needs of their students and NOT the needs of the system. I wanted to find a way to bring childcare back to the basics, before all of the benchmarks and regulations. I wanted to give children the choice to learn differently, and a chance to be the best versions of themselves. And like the flick of a light switch, I came across what I was looking for. Play-based learning.

I’m not talking about letting your kids go crazy with store bought toys and video games. I’m talking about natural, messy, dirty, play. The kind of play where you learn what lives in the dirt by getting your fingers under it. The kind of play that requires REAL materials, not store-bought fantasies. The kind of play that lets kids make mistakes, and learn from them.

My childcare philosophy focuses on connecting children with nature, and letting their wonder for the natural world be the catalyst for the teacher’s curriculum.

I know I learned a lot more from making mud pies in my grandmother’s backyard, than I ever did from an Easy Bake Oven. So why not give our own children that chance? As our world continues to advance, let’s not forget where we came from. Let’s challenge ourselves to be more for our children by giving them the resources they need to be authentically themselves. Let’s let kids play.

Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem on Unsplash