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Sustainability in Childcare

Sustainability in Childcare

How we Keep The Green Elephant Green

Sustainability in childcare is becoming a more and more prominent part of the teaching that is on offer. From harvesting our own food, to reusing discarded materials in play… childcares are leading the way in developing pro-globe habits even within the youngest of children. So, let’s look further at sustainable practices in childcare, as well as some of the ways you can embed sustainable thinking within your family, too.

Why is Sustainability Important to Learn at an Early Age?

Sustainability may feel like a word we hear more and more often throughout our daily lives now, with news reports, social media posts, and the latest celebrity endorsements all telling us to make the small changes now that will positively impact the condition of our world for generations to come.

But have you ever considered why some of these lifestyle changes are hard for some of us to make (and stick to)!? It’s often because the small routines and nuances of our daily lives have been ingrained into us from the youngest of ages and, as the saying goes, old habits really do die hard.

Often the onus to be sustainable is cast quite narrowly to us as individuals, which of course has relevance, but more so sustainability must be tackled on a wider level. If we want to see real impact and meaningful changes, addressing our social habits regarding consumerism and our community well-being is the key to embedding positive change.

It would seem logical, therefore, like with all social issues faced throughout the ages, that our educational curriculums reflect our move to develop a more sustainable future, as well as embedding this into policies, centre goals and daily practices.

Introducing sustainability to young children

Young children learn best through ‘doing’ and what greater way do we give children the chance to ‘do’ than through play! Play is an important way that children experience the world around them, learn about themselves and others, and safely explore the boundaries of life. In quality early education services, educators are positioned as nurturers of children’s play, adding inspiration and challenge to their play instincts. 

So, it would seem no great leap to assume that approaching sustainable practices in childcare through active, hands-on experiences would be any different. We don’t want to preach to children about the importance of sustainability… we want to nurture positive habits within them and empower them with the knowledge of knowing that what they do matters!  

What this then means is a shift in the approaches taken by educators to promote these positive practices within themselves, as well as the children they teach. After all, educators like me who were first trained over 10 years ago, weren’t taught pedagogy to support a sustainable future… but like all good educators, our role is one of inquiry and learning with the children as we follow their interests and needs, rather than simply imparting what we think we know upon them. 

Sustainability Activities at The Green Elephant

Sustainability in the garden

Each of our services have green landscapes, both indoors and out, which children actively participate within. Allowing nature to flow across the space ensures that, even within built-up areas, children start their life surrounded by natural elements. From veggie gardens to native greenery, the children work alongside our farmhands and educators to get literally hands-on with their environment. 

Activities include:

  • replanting discarded veggie ends and observing their regrowth
  • planting seeds and harvesting the foods
  • exploring the sensory garden of mint, rosemary, and thyme
  • art in nature – using the landscapes as provocations for creativity

Sustainability in the kitchen

Our chefs work to create seasonal menus which reflect the produce available locally, including within our very own veggie patches. Children can see the life cycle of growth from seed to plate, which helps them understand how they can contribute to the world around them. 

Activities include:

  • using harvested foods as part of the daily menu
  • composting food waste and scraps
  • cooking activities with the chefs

Sustainability in play

Sustainable practices in childcare can exist at many different levels, not only within the team, families, and communities but also the children’s daily play as well. Even just stopping to watch the moth fly from leaf to leaf, tracking its journey and seeing how important the nature it encounters is, is a small moment that can spark hours and days of inquiry-based play that teaches the children sustainable thinking. Curating these teachable moments is all about the play context we provide… repurposing materials.

Sustainability in craft 

Using a creative activity to design and construct water capsules that can gather rainwater to water the plants with is just one of many examples of how children’s inherent want to play, create and explore can be channeled to teach positive habits that will impact great change.

Sustainability activities for children at home

Recycling – engage your child in categorising items ready for recycling. 

Plant a garden – an entire patch, or a small pot… planting and watching life grow is a great activity to engage in at home. 

Reuse items for craft – save old cartons and packets to use within craft materials… they provide different textures and can be molded to make all sorts.

Play outside – visit the park, or take a trip to the local beach. Children understand more about their natural world by having hands-on experiences with it.

Where is The Green Elephant…

Having read the above, are you now considering daycare for your child and family? Well, come along and meet one of our team on a tour of our Beaconsfield, Horsley Park, Rosebery or Waterloo services. We will chat to you about your child’s needs, what you can expect from the enrolment and orientation process, as well as give you some advice in tackling those nerves you will undoubtedly be feeling. 

Reach out to one of our friendly TGE Enrolments team now by clicking here, or alternatively calling on 1300 353 742 to book a tour

We look forward to welcoming you to The Green Elephant family.