Vanessa Gilliam on Experiencing Natural Environments

In this session, Vanessa Gilliam discusses how she started out in childcare and how she was adamant that children should have good quality outdoor experiences. She explains her philosophy behind this and how she built her centre from an old unit on a trading estate – proving that you can create great outdoor spaces for children with the right outlook and plenty of hard work!

She shares practical, tried and tested advice for early years educators who may want to do the same in their setting. We also discuss the importance of sharing this philosophy with families and the wider community.
· July 12, 2019

Vanessa Gilliam is an experienced and inspirational early years practitioner who specializes in providing babies and toddlers with unique natural outdoor experiences.

Having raised eight children of her own she has an exceptional talent for listening, observing and responding to children’s verbal and nonverbal communications. Vanessa has developed her practice by achieving her master’s degree in early childhood development and leadership but also by connecting with other outdoor learning enthusiasts to develop a unique natural learning environment and program. She lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina where they have the pleasure of witnessing all of nature’s four seasons. Her love for the outdoors has always been a big part of her teaching and leadership philosophy.

Vanessa had a Family Childcare Home where she provided for small groups of infants and toddlers in a warm, safe and sensitive environment for eleven years. Vanessa currently owns and operates a small child care facility in a rural area of Flat Rock, North Carolina called Nessa’s Young’uns Natural Play Center. The building is in a business center in town and she has worked hard to turn this area into a more natural outdoor space.

Building up from the ground level, with limited budgets, Vanessa and her staff have been making things happen that transform children’s lives through simple, creative ideas, involving the children and parents and using the resources at our disposal. Since infant and toddlers learn through their senses and nature is all about one’s senses, it is only natural to let them be who they are and encourage them to develop and learn through nature.

Her goal as director and consultant is to inspire other adults in early childhood education to provide infants and toddlers with natural outdoor experiences.

Nessa’s Young’uns Natural Play Center opened September 11, 2017 and is to be a model center for her community to learn about the importance and benefits of allowing infants and toddlers to explore in nature.

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Episode Includes

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