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What we love most about our work are the people we work with. We’re very proud of our natural play community here at Natural Pod and to celebrate some of the people in our community, we’ve started a short series we’re calling our Natural Play Community People Profiles. Short interviews with some of the great people leading the work of using natural play to inspire creativity, learning and compassion in our early learning, kindergarten, preschool and daycare communities.

Our featured natural play community profile person this week is: Debra Roxburgh from Three Tree Early Learning Center

What inspired you to be an educator?

Early in my life I knew I enjoyed working with young children. My mother, also an educator and pioneer in play-based learning in elementary schools inspired me to follow through with pursuing an education in early childhood development. Children’s delightful sparkle and zest in still one of the most beautiful things I have seen in my life. Our early years are where we are the most influenced in all areas of development. A preschooler’s social/emotional development, cognitive/intellectual development and gross and fine motor development are growing at a vast pace. I wanted to become a part of this grand learning experience.

What are the most rewarding aspects of your work?

The most rewarding aspect of my job is being a part of the “wow” moments in a child’s life. Hearing the children exclaim, “I did it myself”, “Watch me”, “Look at this!” I enjoy setting the stage for children to discover both how and what they learn.

One of the most emotional experiences of my life was working with darling children for years but yet I was unable to have a child of my own. Then with the brilliance of science my husband and I are now parents of my three year old beautiful daughter. As an early childhood educator and mother, I wanted to give my child the best start possible. I had forever envisioned a unique program which I both wanted to work in and have my child enrolled in, however such a program did not exist in my community.

With partial support from the BC Ministry for Children and Family Development Major Capital Funding Grant Program I was able to create the program of my dreams. I am thankful for this support, and excited to offer other families in my community the kind of program/environment I want for my own child; full of love and respect. This is a huge reward for me.

What best describes the unique aspects of the program that you offer?

I am blessed to live in a gorgeous mountain side community surrounded by forest, located in Cumberland on Vancouver Island. I have embraced an essence of the community I live. Our outdoor play space reflects a piece of nature bursting in play, discovery and imagination. We added native plants, driftwood features and a natural softscape design. Our Cumberland community embraces an outdoor lifestyle with a mass mountain bike culture. I have a little bike culture in my play yard. My toys and equipment are an extension of nature and I am proud to say locally made (thanks Natural pod). I believe in a child-led, play based approach and offer open ended, imaginative equipment inside and outside.

If you had a magic wand, what would you change in your learning environment?

In my own environment I’d like more interior square footage for music and movement. In a greater sense I’d increase provincial and federal government aid and funding. Our Early Childhood Programs generally lack in resources, and parents receive little support. It is a disgrace how little Early Childhood Educators are paid in our country for such important work which impacts our society in such a large way.