How does our Nursery cultivate environmentally active pupils?

Last week, one Nursery parent asked me, “Ms. Zhou, where are the 5000 earthworms which were fed in our Nursery?”

I was very happy when I heard this question and also somehow excited as I knew that the learning community we have always tried to build was slowly forming and expanding.

The parents are not only paying attention to their children’s study and daily life, but also gradually engaging into the Nursery family as community members. Parents play an essential role in pupils’ learning and school life.

Sometimes, parents are the experts in pupils’ specialist subject study; sometimes, parents are the listeners of pupils’ school life. Sometimes, parents are the witnesses of pupils’ study; sometimes, parents are the participants and organizers of pupils’ school activities. We show our sincere thanks to these mums and dads who walk along with pupils in their study and growing path and experience the beautiful world with our pupils together.

Next, let’s welcome today’s star Mr. Earthworm with our warmest applause.

The motto “start early” is often heard when referring to the education of early years children. This could be when discussing learning a second language, learning an instrument or learning to read. Then why are we not early to introduce the idea of sustainability to early years children?

Within the setting of the Nursery we will be instilling best practices towards our impact on the environment over the coming year; and one initiative which was very successful last year was the worm farms.

Using worm farms to combat our food waste allows for the children to become responsible for their own eating habits while taking responsibility for living animals. As the worms feed on our discarded food, the worms turn this into an organic fertiliser; which in turn can be utilised throughout the different class years to propagate the garden beds.

To foster environmentally active students within the community, the role of the educator with resources at hand can work collaboratively within the child. Sobel (2004) has noted that “environmental education might be locally conceived through the blending of the school, environment and community”.

Therefore, it is the role of the educator to make sure children are connected and contribute to their world, belong to communities, understand the responsibilities necessary for active community participation and become socially responsible and show respect for the environment.

The connection between community and environment for the child is facilitated by the educator, and this idea can be further reinforced when we think how environmental issues and topics are raised and acted upon; and how sustainable thinking and practices have been integrated into the curriculum which show that very young children, in the presence of passionate and committed teachers, are quite capable of engaging in education for sustainability and in ‘making a difference’.

As the children engage with the worms, this encourages an holistic approach to their learning which incorporates the ideas of sustainability and healthy eating practices into the curriculum.