We know that recycling helps the environment by reducing pollution and decreasing the amount of landfill, but additionally, recycling can teach children important lifelong lessons. If we use both intentional teaching strategies and play based learning experiences, to immerse children in recycling when they are young, they will develop positive habits that become fluid throughout the home, community and later into the workplace.
Sustainability & The Natural World
Resources. Every Early childhood Service has piles of resource catalogues in their staff room. There are always the new shiny thing on offer on Pinterest, and Facebook groups are full of ideas being shared – we can do that, we should get that. It’s easy to get carried away purchasing things that are unnecessary and add to the amount of “stuff” in our storerooms.
However, if we are really serious about our role in the sustainability of our world, then we should seriously think about our planet’s finite resources and be very considerate with our actions.
Explore & Develop Annandale subscribes to the sustainable principal of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
The best way to be more sustainable and to make an impact on the use of our planet’s resources is to “Reduce” what we purchase. This means thinking about whether we need the resource. Are we really going to use it? Can we get the same learning outcome by using a resource we already have?
When we decide we need a resource the first thought is does this resource already exist and can we obtain it? Second Hand sellers have become the best friend of many Services, places like Reverse Garbage, op shops like the Salvos Shops or Vinnies, ebay and Gumtree. By investing a bit of time, you can find most things you need. … Examples of this are home corner crockery, wooden bowls and baskets, there are plenty of these in Vinnies.
Resourcing within the community is also a great way for families to invest in the Program, many families have items that when collected can be useful, home corner items, recycling items for art, such as milk bottle tops – these are a great used in maths activities, loose parts and in art.
We have recently commenced a project of making Boomerang Bags – using material donated by members of our community. The bags will be distributed within our community shops for consumers to use as an alternative to plastic bags.
Having said all that, when we purchase new resources we ensure the items have play affordability, are open-ended, can be used by a variety of age groups and are ethically sourced.
We have many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander resources in our Service. From music, tablecloths, dolls, literature and art, it is embedded throughout our space. When purchasing a resources we assess the artist and reseller to ensure they are ethical.
Last year we worked with Educational Experience testing their Boolarng range of resources which have been developed with communities across Australia. Our babies particularly engaged with the My Country Backdrop by Worimi Country artist Kristy Anderson. We used the backdrop on the floor of our babies playspace, they crawled around on it with under the sea projections on the walls.
We have the Marrung Capes to our dress ups in our preschool room. It has been particularly interesting to see how children use these in different ways, around their shoulders, their waist or their heads. The animals on the capes develop their own superpowers in superhero play and become a topic of conversation, adding to the knowledge of Australian animals.
As art is always a core of our program we have a continuous need for resources to support children’s engagement. Again, this is an opportunity to be mindful of purchasing resources that allow children to be creative and express their emotions. To not get pulled into purchasing something that leads the child into creating a specific tangible output.
We regularly forage for natural materials on our excursions, however we purchase good quality implements such as pencils, paints, brushes, clay tools are necessary. Choosing tools made from wood or bamboo are more sustainable than those made from plastic. Often when purchasing cheaper products, the investment is wasted when the pencil doesn’t last, or the colour isn’t bold enough and doesn’t engage the child in the experience.
When we respect the child and their engagement with the resource we invest in their experience with the resource.
By Su Garrett - Explore & Develop Annandale
In providing for our future we need to ask ourselves “What can we do to be sustainable?” and “How can we integrate these actions in our day to day activities?” These practices should be intertwined within everything we plan, do, say and believe and should be a combined effort between the children in our care, the early childhood setting and the family.