Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Dear Naturalist...

Dear Naturalist,

First, let me say thank you. I know it looked rainy and you were concerned about your animals and specimens being safe. Thank you for coming anyway. Thank you also for making an expensive program affordable for a small homeschool group to afford. We do appreciate your time and knowledge.

I do need to let you know something for future programs. Sometimes homeschool groups have young children. If you are not interested in having young children participate please speak up during the planning stage of the event. We would understand. Also, if you are not comfortable having your animals near children who are living with special needs please mention that during the planning stage. Keep in mind that most homeschooling groups do have toddlers and preschoolers as well as children living with special needs.

You mentioned working with older children which is great. Keep in mind, though, that younger children have different developmental needs and stages. When you requested that no child pick up a rock or stick at a regional park, I was a little surprised. Surely you were trying to keep everyone safe which I understand completely. However, my toddler is usually allowed to hold a thin stick or, as when you gave him a dirty look, hold a pine needle. This is part of normal exploration and learning. As I directed my son toward an area further from the animals because he had items in his hand, he protested because he loves spiders and snakes. Sadly you chose to interrupt my interaction with my son to tell me how you cannot compete with his noise. I was already on the case and the issue would have resolved much more quickly had you stayed out of it. Did you hear me clearly enough when I said, as kindly as I could muster, that he is two and this is normal behavior even though he is living with Sensory Processing Disorder? Did you notice how four parents, all paying clients just like me by the way, walked to me and supported me as I brought my son to a location further from you? Please know that I understand where you are coming from, but I need for you to understand that my son lost out on part of a very educational experience because of your choices. I will not go into the detail regarding how far my child has come since the days of banging his head repeatedly for up to an hour. I will say that if all he did was yell a few times while outdoors, that is huge progress in his situation.

I do hope you enjoyed your time with the other children and parents. They seemed to have fun too. My daughters enjoyed learning about scorpions, snakes, and spiders. I chose not to confront you because I was not calm and in that case nothing good would have come from such an exchange. I do hope you will think about the development of young children and elementary age children before you do another program. I also hope you enjoyed the tip our group gave you. I always tip for a service rendered because it is not easy to present to children. I hope that you continue to serve the community with naturalist programs because you are very knowledgeable. Just please keep in mind who your audience is each time.


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