A large part of our ethos is dedicated to providing all children in our care opportunities to build their awareness of the environment and develop a solid foundation for sustainable living. Young Friends actively participate in the Eco-schools in Early Years incentive and we are seeking to achieve its highest award, the Green Flag, in the near future – we currently hold bronze and silver. As part of our commitment to eco-values, we do the following:
- Routine – Throughout their day, children are reminded of the importance of turning off electronics and taps, recycling, and keeping their environment, both indoors and out, tidy and well looked after.
- Limiting waste – Everyone in the nursery is expected to recycle and reuse as much as possible. Children make their own paper, take trips to recycling spots and create recycled crafts as part of their waste awareness. The allotment includes a rain butt, which also provides filtered drinking water, and compost bin.
- Themed weeks – In the year, we dedicate a themed week to eco-awareness, of which there is a representative, with an abundance of repurposed and recycled crafts, trips to recycling centers, and activities engaging children in learning about the environment.
- Visual resources – The preschoolers have Eco-Warrior necklaces with each detailing a particular area that child is responsible for, i.e. turning off taps. Each group, including babies, have eco-awareness posters to remind and engage children on this topic.
- Tidy up time – Children are expected to look after their room and garden environment with dedicated tidy up times that include our “Tidy Up” song and positive reinforcement such as the preschoolers’ mighty marbles.
- Respect for living things – There are two rabbits, Sizzles and Bagheera, who live in the garden. Children handle them daily and help with their cleaning and feeding. They have a large run and also spend time roaming free in the garden. Furthermore, our children learn to respect all living creatures including the ones they will likely find in our garden such as snails, spiders, and bugs, etc. and treat them with care and consideration.
- ANIMAL WELFARE – We proactively discourage supporting organizations that we believe are detrimental to the environment and/or the species therein. Although we acknowledge that many organizations, like the Sealife Centre, have initiatives to support wildlife preservation, we believe it’s imperative to instill in children a sense that animals should be left to their natural habitats. To this end, we do not invite “travelling zoos” into the nursery nor do we take children on trips where non-domestic wildlife will be in enclosures for entertainment purposes. We also discourage taking creatures out of their environments to observe their growth, i.e. removing tadpoles or frogspawn from a pond. With modern technology, there are ample opportunities for children to learn about the magnificent species in their world and we take children on trips to observe them in their natural habitats.
- Biodiversity – We actively promote biodiversity within the nursery and at our allotment. The nursery garden includes bug hotels and bird feeders created by the children. In an effort to attract and provide for our dwindling bee population, bee attracting flowers have also been planted at the allotment. The team are always directly engaging children in acknowledging the living things in their environment and using these moments as educational opportunities.
- National observance days/weeks – We take part in Earth day and Waste Awareness week events incorporating their themes into our week of activities.