When we first opened Young Friends Kindergarten (as Young Friends Nature Nursery) in 2010, it inspired us to focus on nature and the outdoors, and we quickly saw how much the children loved learning through nature, and our nature plot took shape.
Then we started looking at the amount of single-use plastics and other disposables that were being used in nurseries – including ours. What we found got us really worried, and we started thinking about the lack of attention to wider sustainability in nurseries, in terms of both the environment and children’s education.
With the environment in crisis, what messages were nurseries sending to our children, and what were we really teaching them about the world they live in, and their role in looking after it?
We decided then and there that it simply wasn’t good enough, and that we needed to transform our Young Friends Kindergarten into a truly sustainable early years nursery environment.
It’s taken a few years, and lots of experimentation, but today we’ve created a nursery experience for children based around sustainability through our own unique natural curriculum. High quality interactions and a carefully constructed blend teaching approach influenced by respected theories (both national and international) enable us to follow our conviction that every child has the potential to grow into an adult committed to saving our planet.
We aim to help every child to understand that they have a role to play while they are growing up – and that they can make a difference.
Sustainability is at the core of our approach. When we talk about sustainability, we’re talking about the changes which will ultimately impact on our ability to protect our environment and save our planet.
Caring for our planet begins with respect. Respect for our environment, our natural resources, and for every form of life, from the smallest bug to ourselves. Anti-bias runs through everything we do, and we show our children how to respect themselves, each other and all the diversity they around them.
We don’t just talk about sustainability, diversity and child-initiated learning, we live by them. In our nursery, forest school and beach school environments, every child has a genuine experience of what it means to live a sustainable life. From growing, cooking and eating only natural, plant-based foods, to eliminating single-use disposable items, our children learn from experience every day.
We believe we’re unique in the UK in the trailblazing approach we have taken to building our sustainable nursery. We also believe that it’s essential for more children to benefit from our approach. But we understand (because we’ve done it), that changing the way nurseries do things is not easy. We’re not here to preach, we are here to help.
Our Young Friends Kindergarten is a community in which everyone works together for the good of the child. Our kindergarten is also part of the wider community, and our children, their parents and our staff are part of that. By encouraging our children to value diversity, we help them to become exceptional humans, who will pass-on what they learn to others in their communities throughout their lives.