At Highfields Child Care Centre we believe that the early years in a child’s life are fundamental in creating an educated and conscious path for their future; which includes environmental sustainability in early learning. Our foundation is built on ensuring every child receives the best education and care possible in a safe, calm, fun and friendly learning environment.
We offer children a sustainable environment where they feel comfortable while they discover, learn and play. We believe that your child’s learning and development should be an extension of their home environment. Children want to feel that they are loved, important, and unique. Nurturing the human spirit of your child is one of our greatest values. Nurturing in the educational environment also involves the introduction of important issues that will inform their futures. As such, we have incorporated sustainability into our early learning curriculum, and ensure that our educators abide by environmentally sustainable practices in order to create environmentally sustainable thinking patterns.
What is environmental sustainability in the early learning environment?
Environmental sustainability in early learning is basically providing children with an environmental education; assisting them to learn about the environment, and how natural systems function. It’s everything that we need for our survival and wellbeing relating directly to our natural environment.
Highfields Child Care Centre takes an active role in incorporating environmental sustainability into our early learning curriculum, which involves caring for the environment, and promoting and contributing to a sustainable future. We provide a natural environment and use only sustainable materials to encourage sustainable practices in the childcare environment.
At Highfields we implement environmental sustainability into early learning by:
• promoting respect for, and an appreciation of, the natural environment among all;
• fostering children’s’ capacity to understand and respect the natural environment, and the interdependence between people, plants, animals and the land;
• supporting the development of positive attitudes and values in line with sustainable practices; and
• ensuring that educators and other staff engage in sustainable practices.
Sustainable practices for preschool children
At Highfields we believe that education that is rich in sustainable practices can be derived from engaging in sustainability through an array of experiences with our children, these include:
• recycling both soft and hard plastics, cardboards, metals, glass and paper;
• worm farming;
• using recycled and repurposed materials within the classrooms;
• using facewashes rather disposable wipes;
• reducing our energy consumption by having the children take responsibility for monitoring our lights, water and waste;
• gardening and growing our own food; and
• providing a natural environment for children to play in.
Sustainable practices for educators
At Highfields, sustainable practices in early childhood education extend beyond activities that our children can engage in. Our educators facilitate the day to day running of our centre and its sustainable practices include:
• sustainable waste management;
• use of recycled and repurposed materials;
• use of mulch on gardens to reduce water use; and
• use of ecofriendly cleaning products.
Further development of sustainable practices in early learning
Engaging in sustainable environmental change requires more than just implementing the above-mentioned sustainable practices. It involves critical reflection by children, families, our community and educators alike.
Our curriculum is informed by an ethical stance about the relationship between humans and our planet. We support and guide children to understand that our actions both positive and negative have an impact on the world in which we all live.
This is not about over burdening children but asking the right questions so that different ways of thinking and being can be discussed. This will ensure that our children are well informed and can develop thinking patterns that consider sustainability issues. This will support them to make the right choices in the future. We recognise that early childhood is a critical phase of life for encouraging sustainable approaches for children, families and services, and wish to encourage its further development; and we are not alone!
It’s excellent to see such a positive shift toward improving awareness of environmental sustainability issues in the early childhood education sector within our very own backyard. Highfields Child Care Centre hopes to remain at the forefront of the development of innovative and responsible early childhood curriculum. A positive support for this initiative in early education is the Queensland Early Childhood Sustainability Network https://www.qecsn.org.au/
If you are interested in knowing more about Highfields, and how we are developing our innovative early childhood curriculum through sustainability, get in touch with us today, and see how you can give your child the educational head start they deserve.