- This excerpt is from “Hands-on and Hearts-in nature” Teacher guide -
We can take inspiration for how to be with children outdoors by looking at how gardeners nurture the plants in their garden. We can aspire to this more gentle, non-interfering manner rather than the traditionally thought of ‘teaching teacher’ style.
You see, flowers don’t grow because the gardener tells them to. It is the same with our children. It is not our words that impact most on the child, it is their own experiences. They have to be able to unfold according to their own inner timetable. Rather than directly interfering with the flower the gardener prepares the right environment, for it to bloom as nature intended. Nature also intends for children to bloom, and we know that the best place for that is in relationship with Mother Nature. And so it is our role to prepare the right environment, for the child, and for their nature connection. That is a big part of our tangible ‘doing’ - to prepare the environment, areas, materials, and rituals for the children that meet their needs for playing, growing and connecting with nature.
The gardener is continually tending the soil, providing nutrients, observing growth and responding to what they see. Isn’t that a beautiful job description for us? We tend ‘the soil’ by continually evaluating the environment we offer and seeing if it is worthy of our growing marvels and what they need. We observe and respond to what unfolds before us, guiding, supporting, modifying, trying out. The ‘nutrients’ we provide don’t come out of a bottle but they nourish the child all the same: a connected relationship, kindness, freedom, trust, and emotional security to name but some.