Tag Archives: Nature Summit

Professional Development

The 2016 Manitoba Child Care conference was held May 26th – 28th and as usual I attended all three days.  Three full days of workshops always leaves me with information overload so I give myself a little break before I go review my notes to remind myself of all the points I found noteworthy.   This year’s theme was ‘Be Inspired, Be Incredible’ and the workshops I attended were truly inspiring especially Teacher Tom!

I’ve attended various workshops and conferences annually throughout my childcare career.  I’ve written about some of them here, here, here and here.  Occasionally I have met ECE’s who appear to be there against their will – completely apathetic and unwilling to participate.  It always makes me wonder why they chose childcare as a career if they have no desire to learn – how can they expect to inspire the children they care for?

I can’t imagine not being interested in expanding your interests – to have no curiosity – to be stagnant.  I’ve attended some workshops that turned out to be much different than I had anticipated/hoped yet I have still found at least some tidbit of useful information.  If it turns out that the workshop presenter and I have completely different views/goals I would still consider it a learning opportunity – even if it is only to reinforce my own beliefs.

I am disappointed that there are rarely more than a few family childcare providers in attendance at conferences.  I’ve heard the excuses ‘It is too expensive’ (It’s a write-off), ‘I can’t afford to close for two days’ (Attend an evening or Saturday workshop),  ‘There is nothing that interests me’ (really?!?!), ‘I already know all that stuff’ (so go lead a workshop – be the expert of your group – mentor others!),’I don’t know anyone else who is going’ (Great! Make some new friends).  In fact, I think that last one is really important – possibly the most important reason you should be going. Family childcare providers work in isolation and it is really easy to get stuck in an old, outdated routine and never grow.

Certainly we can develop wonderful relationships with the families we have enrolled but that can’t provide the type of benefit we get from interacting with peers. Besides – we get food at conferences – food we don’t need to cook ourselves!  I love food that someone else cooks – except fishy things, I don’t like seafood.  One of the reasons I joined a gym is so I never have to turn down food when someone offers it to me.  Ooops, sorry, I got a little off topic for a moment…

The Province of Manitoba Best Practices Licensing Manual for Family and Group Childcare Homes recommends:

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Networking with colleagues is extremely important whether through conferences, committees, courses or some other type of training.  Although useful at times I don’t think looking for new ideas on Pinterest or interacting with peers on social media sites counts as professional development. Personally I believe professional development should be a regulation, a requirement for licensing not just a best practice.

So, here are a few points from my notes from this year’s MCCA conference;

  • Attitude matters, 100 positive people + 1 negative person = 101 negative people.
  • Quality is only as strong as your most marginal performer.
  • Cooperation is hardwired, competition is taught.
  • Formal instruction prepares people to work in factories.
  • Education is not the filling of an empty vessel – it is the ignition of the flame.
  • If it is not interesting to you it is not interesting to them either.
  • Play is what children do when adults stop telling them what they should do.
  • Young children are the most creative problem solvers in the world.
  • The role of the teacher is to prepare the environment for the children to play.

To be honest most of these points are not new knowledge for me but the conversations I was involved in surrounding these points were extremely enlightening and that is why I go to conferences. Counting down the days until my next conference – The Manitoba Nature Summit is just three months away – so excited!

Letting Go

September….Back to School…..Schedules….:P

I’ll admit that having the children heading back to school is not my favourite time of year. Maybe I’m a little greedy – I really like to have them here all day.  I think what bothers me most about back to school is the many hours that the children will spend trapped indoors – in class, indoor recess due to weather, on a bus or in a car.

As a child I walked to school, alone or with friends. I don’t remember ever seeing parents walking with their children – or driving them. What I do remember is the sights and sounds of the neighbourhood, the feel of the sun, the rain, and the icy wind throughout the seasons. This daily walk was a period of transition between home and school. A time when I prepared for the day ahead or reflected on the experience.

My own children walked to school by themselves. When we first moved into this neighbourhood I walked to school with my older two children (then aged 8 & 11) for the first four days – to help to familiarize them with the route. On the Friday of their first week at school they walked by themselves. On their way home they made a wrong turn – and when they realized their mistake they asked a stranger for directions and made it home 15 minutes later than expected.

My younger two children were already familiar with the area by the time they started school. They walked alone the very first day of grade one – at their request. I’m not going to say I didn’t worry – I’m their mother – that’s what I always did.

Every day I pictured the directionally challenged one wandering miles from home with no idea where they were. Every day I worried that someone would suggest something stupid to the somewhat gullible one and they would do it. Every day I worried that the shy/anxious one would panic, run and hide, never to be found again. Every day I worried that the adventurer would get lost in some imaginary world and forget that they should be in school.

I also won’t say that none of those things ever happened. Sometimes they did, but the actual incidents were never as bad as the ones I envisioned and we learned from them. We learned things that we wouldn’t have learned if I had insisted on walking or driving them to school every day.

We learned that they were fully capable of walking a few blocks – four times/day – in all types of weather. We learned that even in elementary school they were capable of being responsible and getting to and from school on time – if they are given the chance to.

The exercise, the outdoor time, the independence were all invaluable parts of their education – equally as important as any of the learning that was done in the classroom. As I watch all the students heading off to school I can’t help wishing they all had the opportunity to walk every day. The opportunity to be outdoors. The opportunity to be independent. The opportunity to learn.

This September my ‘baby’ heads off to university. Today is also his first day at his new job. I didn’t fill out his application for him. I didn’t go to his job interview. I will not be driving him to his classes. It is not that I don’t want to but rather, I know that it is important that he do this on his own. It is important that I let go and let him demonstrate his independence.

I also know it isn’t any easier this year than it was when he was heading off to first grade.

 

In just over a week I’ll be heading off to the 2014 NATURE SUMMIT!!!!
Our Friday keynote will be Lenore Skenazy of Free Range Kids. She will also be speaking on Thursday September 11 at Isaac Brock Community Center 715 Telfer St N – this event is open to the public so you don’t have to attend the entire summit to hear Lenore speak. Let me know if you want tickets.

Making Meetings Fun

Many people don’t enjoy attending meetings – especially those of us who enjoy spending our time outdoors in nature.  So, to encourage attendance at the Manitoba Nature Summit AGM we held the meeting at Camp Manitou and included some all important outdoor time!

Driving up the road to the camp we were greeted by this sight;

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After a brief ‘formal’ sesson indoors we gathered in the parking lot to prepare for our winter evening hike;

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Heading out;

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Finding tracks that show we were not the first ones there;

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And a not so pleasant sight;

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We ended the evening at the campfire with bannock and hot chocolate.

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Perfect AGM 🙂

Nature Summit 2012

This past weekend I attended the 2nd Manitoba Nature Summit.  I worked with an amazing committee to organize this event.  The first nature summit was held in 2010 and I wrote about it here.

The 2012 Summit was bigger and better than the first.  I already miss the Nature Summit experience and I can’t wait to get started on planning for 2014.  I can not relay the experience through a simple blog post but I will share a a few pictures with you.

There were some exciting workshops – and they were not held in a hotel conference room;

We had time to partake in a variety of activities like archery;

mountain biking and hiking etc;

We were introduced to ‘fox walking’;

and practiced it ourselves walking barefoot through the field and forest;

We ate wonderful food from Diversity Catering – this was just a snack;

Evenings were spent going on night hikes or singing and telling stories around the campfire;

The early morning sun promised another day of fabulous weather;

Saturday began with an inspiring keynote address from Severn Suzuki who told us about how her early experiences in nature led her to address the 1992 UN Earth Summit.  We connected with her through a video conference in order to reduce our impact on the earth;

The Nature Summit ended with an emotional closing ceremony;

An experience that cannot be put into words.

Nature Summit 2014 seems so far away but I know it will be worth the wait….

Yard Work 2012

I had not planned to do a major renovation of our outdoor play space this year.  My husband and I have been talking about it for a few years now but no date had been set because we were still unsure what we were going to do.  The problem was the ground level deck.  It had originally been built more than 12 years ago – back when the ancient maple tree was still there;

Over the years there had been many changes including the removal of most of the old tree and the addition of a covered seating area.

Most recently the old tree stump was completely removed to make room for the new fence and the plexiglass painting area was added to the seating area;

Through regular maintenance several deck boards had been replaced and the deck had been stained or painted many times.  It had gotten to the point where any further cosmetic repairs were futile because the underlying structure was near the end of its life.

I priced out the cost of rebuilding the entire deck and discovered that the lumber alone would be more than four times the total cost of the original deck and so labour intensive.  If we were going to have to pay that much then maybe there were other ground surface options.

We discussed the possibility of making a patio but didn’t like the idea of cement bricks.  I really liked the rubber patio pavers that I had been using on the deck but I worried that they would get too hot if I covered the entire area with them.

I liked many of the eco friendly – and local – products available at http://reliabletirerecycling.ca  but their site doesn’t list prices.  My email requests were answered promptly but only resulted in a suggestion that I come down in person – they are not open evenings or weekends when I can get there.

Then I remembered something that I had heard about at MCCA’s conference last May.  I quickly scoured my notes to find it.  The workshop – presented by the amazing Bienenstock’s – had been about designing natural outdoor play spaces and we had spent part of our time creating models like this;

Many of my friends and colleagues questioned why I chose that workshop since I already seem adept in this area.  However, I knew I’d enjoy it and there is always a chance to learn something new – and I did.  During a discussion about the wear and tear on grassy areas we heard about Durolawn.

Now, I will admit that I am not patient enough to wait once I get one of my ‘ideas’ so of course I needed to start work on this immediately.  🙂 No time to order supplies especially when I knew a place I could get a similar product today.   The salesclerk at Jysk seemed somewhat stunned when I bought 50 rubber mats.  Pictured upside down on their site here these mats do really look exactly like Durolawn and they were on sale too!

So now, after four solid 12 hour days of yard work over two weekends our deck area looks like this;

I created a pattern with the two different types of tiles.  The brown rubber tiles will remain solid rubber but the spaces in the black mats will eventually fill with grass.  I just planted the grass seeds yesterday but I’ve already checked several times to see if any grass is growing – remember, waiting for results is not my forte.

We’ve also reused the old bathtub and door from our bathroom remodel as a water table and art wall.  The plexiglass painting area has been moved to form a new wall to support the arbour extension over the walkway and provide a border for the gravel area;

We also have a lovely new water barrel from Fort Whyte – yeah, more recycling;

My husband decided I needed an overhead view of the yard so he took my camera and climbed up on the roof;

In the future I hope to have some more pictures of the various areas ‘in use’ and of course – some grass too.  Hey, maybe I’ll host the next committee meeting for the upcoming Manitoba Nature Summit — we could play outside while we plan for ways to engage children with nature.

Baking Plans

I like to bake.  I don’t actually bake as much or as often as I’d like to but that’s mostly because I’m trying not to eat so much baking.  Sadly I haven’t got enough will power to bake without being tempted to also consume – sometimes in vast quantities.

So, I tend to limit my baking to items that lean more towards ‘nutritious’ instead of ‘decadent’. I will also admit that, although I don’t dislike nutritious, I definitely crave those decadent items.  Consequently I only bake those sweeter items for special occasions – preferably ones where the baked treats are taken to a location away from my home.

I’ve picked out ten recipes – some cannot be considered ‘healthy’.

I’ve bought all the necessary ingredients – and I’m trying not to eat them (some of the chocolate and butterscotch chips have unfortunately already been sacrificed).

I’ve set aside some time – hopefully it is enough to finish all the baking.

Why?  Two words….

Bake Sale!

Next Thursday (March 15th, 2012) the Manitoba Nature Summit is having their annual Dinner and a Movie fundraiser and you are all invited.  It will be at 6:30 pm in the large gym at Stanley Knowles School, 2424 King Edward St.

Of course the bake sale is just a small part of the event.  The movie is the main event.  We will also be having pizza and popcorn.  You’ll need to RSVP immediately if you want pizza – the order deadline is today!

Even if you don’t want to order pizza, or you missed the deadline, you can still come to see the movie.  I’ve seen it – it is amazing – truly inspirational.  It is called ‘A Simple Question: The Story of STRAW’   It is the perfect example of what can happen when educators are able to provide meaningful experiences that connect children and nature.

So come out and support the Nature Summit 2012 and our efforts to provide opportunities for educators to learn useful skills and create opportunities for nature and environmental education.

I hope to see you there! – I don’t want to have to bring any leftover baking home.