No Child Left Inside: Engaging In-Home Family Childcare Providers in Backyard STEM

By Susanna Stratton
STEM consultant for the Child Care Action Council

CCAC_blog_april2015-1As this project has progressed, the opportunity to attend Early Achievers cohort meetings for three separate counties has provided an outstanding platform for generating ideas, sharing experiences, and stimulating excitement for backyard STEM development.

While working in conjunction with the structure of the monthly cohort meetings designed in the EA program, providers are able to brainstorm ideas and generate resources together, which could not happen alone. This project has the potential to strengthen ties among independent providers… and go beyond their current working relationships as “work parties” are designed and resources are shared among the group with STEM objectives in mind.

We have already seen the benefits of this supportive community, as our members rise to share information and look for ideas among their peers. Irene Compton has been an outstanding teacher of young children for over 28 years in this region. She has continued to educate herself by attending classes and conferences, reading, and developing curriculum for her preschool children at Brentwood Preschool in Lacey. Her participation in the STEM project has been freely offered, and the wealth of her experience has provided inspiration to many dedicated providers stimulated by her ideas and her willingness to make time to share her wisdom.

CCAC_blog_april2015-2Providers such as Priscilla Turcott have already had an initial consultation, looking around her backyard to define ways to bring learning to life for her children. We are developing a “STEM Field Notebook” with curriculum ideas, backyard plans and documentation with their evolving photos, conversations and learning. This notebook will include curriculum ideas based on the children and providers interests, and will include resources they can easily access for further development of STEM learning in their backyards.

A blog is in its trial phase, but will soon be available for all grant applicants, their Early Achievers coaches and STEM consultants. This interactive forum is intended to bring the dialogue into the living rooms with new ideas and activities to share with young children in family in-home childcare settings.

In addition to the consultation CCAC has provided the following STEM classes across our region.

Feb. 26: Using STEM in Creating Outdoor Environments
March 17: Back Yard Bound
June 24: STEM in Early Childhood Education

Grays Harbor
Feb. 11: Using STEM in Creating Outdoor Environments
April 18: Growing Up Wild at the Carousel Conference

June 16: Using STEM in Creating Outdoor Environments

March 14: Using STEM in Creating Outdoor Environments (Olympic Peninsula Association for the Education of Young Children Conference)
April 28: STEM in Early Care and Education

Online Interactive
June 30: Creative Outdoor Environments