We all recognise that we need to identify solutions for the future but often feel helpless as to what we can do about it ourselves. The problems seem so huge that it's hard to know what we as individuals can do to make a difference and be part of the solutions. We know that we need to do something as climate change will impact not just us but future generations as well, so it is doubly important that we continue to work towards these goals and educate our children so they can be a part of these solutions and help with the development of alternatives.
Here are ten easy tips for things we can model for our children to help them understand how they can help look after the planet:
1: Conserve water when brushing teeth and watering the garden.
2: Flick the switch - turn off lights when you leave a room and turn off the TV if no one is watching it anymore.
3: Close the door - this keeps heat inside in the winter and cool air inside in the summer. Also, keep the fridge door shut as much as possible to keep it running optimally.
4: Start a garden - start small with a window box for herbs and vegetable pots for tomatoes or other vegetables. Make sure to include your children in the harvesting and cooking of the harvest
5: Avoid disposables - use refillable water bottles where possible, use reusable containers for snack boxes, carry a hankie instead of paper tissues etc.
6: Recycle - teach children how to separate items for recycling such as old homework in the paper recycling bag and used yogurt pots in the plastic recycling bag, then complete the cycle by buying items that are made from recycled paper or plastic.
7: Reuse - clean out jam or jelly jars and use them as cups, use some recyclable items such as used kitchen rolls for junk modelling art projects,
8: Compost - teach the children which items can and can't be composted, have them sort the food waste and show them the composting process. Finally allow them to use the fertilizer created with the compost to enrich their garden soil.
9: Walk, use public transport or bike - demonstrate that not all trips need to be taken by car, go for a walk in the local area as a family after dinner. As the children get older then begin to allow them to walk or bike to the shop, school, or a friend's house nearby.
10: Give experience gifts - toys get broken or children grow bored of them, and they can quickly end up in landfill. Think of alternative gifts for your children that you can do as a family instead and build memories for a lifetime, such as taking them rock climbing or camping, go to museums, art galleries, ballet, or theatre trips. Not only creating memories and strengthening family bonds but providing valuable experiences that help them learn and grow as well.
These actions not only help our planet but set an example to our children, helping them build good habits from a young age. It's also important to not just model this behaviour but to build our children's understanding of why we do these things, explaining the importance of these actions and why we need to take care of the environment and our planet.
I was fortunate enough to have a mother who was ahead of her time in terms of living sustainably and taking care of the planet. I have many fond memories of going for nature walks with her and my sister as a child and she seemed to have an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of the tree and plant names. She would grow her own fruit, vegetables, and herbs in her cottage garden, and we would go blackberry picking so she could make the most delicious jams for our breakfast. This developed a love for cooking in me and my sister, which in turn led to our own interest in gardening and sustainability. My mother also had a part of the garden dedicated to composting the natural waste from her meal preparations and would use this compost to improve the soil quality in her garden. She always took her own bags to the supermarket and would collect any extras to reuse well before supermarkets began charging for them. I also remember her using the local milkman to buy her milk, making sure to rinse the milk bottles out and leave them out to be collected and used again. My mother also made sure we had the experience of owning a pet when growing up, we started with fish and worked our way up to rabbits and cats. She made it very clear that we were responsible for cleaning their environment out and feeding them. This helped us develop a sense of responsibility for animals and understand their needs as well as our own. All these experiences helped me create meaningful connections with the environment and allowed me to understand how I can help look after the planet in my own small ways.
In the Early Years at Dabrowskiego, we are helping our students learn these things in an age and stage appropriate way. We encourage them to be kind to each other as the natural preparation for being kind to other species. We develop their curiosity about the world and encourage them to ask questions to improve their knowledge and understanding of it. We provide different learning experiences linked to the changing seasons and their own interests, such as gardening and observing the plants, insects, and wildlife we see on our school grounds. From Year One to Year Six, the IPC is a fantastic way to further develop the children's knowledge of the world, get to grips with some of the basic problems that our planet has and learn what they can do to be a part of the solutions. We discuss the global goals with them and teach them the foundations they will need in all subjects to help things improve. The Personal Learning Goals help the children become more empathetic and critical thinkers, helping build the skills they will need to problem solve and hopefully make things better for everyone in the future.
We want to create thoughtful, questioning individuals who care about the world, and want to make it better for themselves and future generations. They are the ones who will have to live with the consequences of previous actions after all.
Tiger's Class Teacher
Nursery/Pre-Nursery Learning Leader