As a society, we are all now so aware of the effects our behaviours and habits are having on the environment, and in our opinion it is imperative that our children are aware of and take responsibility of the role they play in protecting the environment we live in. Whilst it is only now becoming apparent that these messages have to start from the earliest point to enable children to grow up aware, informed and responsible for their planet, we have always firmly believed this is a vital lesson for children to learn and even more so to be actively involved in the preservation of our local beaches, environment and wider world.
Our children are increasingly becoming more and more aware of the environment, features of their natural world, and the impact our actions have on our planet. We have always placed huge emphasis on the process of recycling and making the children more mindful of the actions we can take to preserve and protect our environment and the small steps we can all take as individuals that will support our environment and protect the world we live in. Whilst we have always been an environmentally friendly setting, we are always thinking of new and innovative ways to support children in understanding and identify ways in means of protecting the environment whilst developing a sense of responsibility of how their own actions and behaviours and the routines of the setting can impact their wider world.
In the beginning, we introduced the concept of recycling initially by installing our own recycling bin for the children to use freely as we began to draw more attention to the materials of packaging and familiar objects to support the children in developing their understanding of different materials, their characteristics and whether or not they can be recycled and re-used. This simple yet effective activity and learning experience enabled our children to explore the concept of recycling at their own pace whilst sparking a new interest. The results mean they are now able to confidently categorise items according to their material and recognise the recycling symbol, not just on items and packets, but also whilst out and about too.
Similarly, we have installed a compost bin as the children love to cook and we have been explaining to them that food doesn’t have to be waste and that they can ‘feed the planet’ by composting their leftover food and vegetables.
In addition to this, we frequently take the children to visit our local recycling centre where we explained how the different items are organised and then re-used to make new items and toys, each time learning a new fact or piece of information from the staff there who tell us what they’ve re-used certain materials for. We have also taken our household recyclable materials to the Recycling Point at our local supermarket where the children were able to identify which of their materials needed to be placed.
My colleague and a fellow childminder from our local Childminding group, Magic Minders; have also organised beach cleans for our local beach in Worthing where ourselves, our children and other Childminders and their Mindees spend the morning collecting rubbish from our beach front. We have also enlisted the support of the local Beach Office who are providing us with cleaning and collecting materials, as well as the local spokesperson for our Recycling Centre who came along to our initial Beach Clean to talk to the children about the environment and recycling. We now hold these beach cleans with our children regularly, to ensure our local area is well-looked after and our sea is safe for the creatures that build their habitat there. Not only does this re-iterate the importance of recycling and protecting the natural world but will also provide children with a sense of ownership and responsibility that their actions actively impact the environment and they can do things to prevent damaging the environment.
Whilst these may appear to only be small changes being made by a small setting, we believe that by educating our children on the environment and the natural world in their Early Years, we will support these children in becoming considerate and thoughtful members of society, with a consideration for their wider world and environment, which in the long run can only have a positive impact on the environment and wider community as a whole. Children lead by example and so we must ensure that the example we are setting and the way we consider and treat our environment is a positive one.