We already know how very important it is to work together with the parent or carers of children attending your setting, so together you can provide the best learning experience for those children. Agreed shared goals and good communication are fundamental to this.
Researchers in environmental psychology have shown that parental pro-environmental behaviour has a strong influence in determining how their children behave, when it comes to things like conserving energy and recycling.
But equally it has shown that this is not always consistent – possibly because parents do not always explain why they are turning off a light or putting paper in a different bin, or because their children do not notice them doing it.
So for settings to play a role in ensuring that children are informed about the reasons for recycling, re-purposing, saving water or energy or looking after the natural world – and ensuring that parents are involved at every step of the way – will make the likelihood of children behaving in a positive pro-environmental way that much stronger.
Including the family to broaden everyone's knowledge
Alison, Manager at Hatchell Wood Pre-school, describes their approach to improving sustainability:
“When looking at improving sustainability in our early years provision alongside our current recycling and reusing items system in 2019, we researched how teaching children to grow their own fruit and vegetables would have a beneficial impact. To support our project we applied for a grant from through our local cooperative to improve children’s outdoor learning.
"The whole project was devised not only to benefit the children but to include the children’s immediate family and the wider community in order to broaden their knowledge around sustainability.
"The garden we created was an inspiring learning opportunity for the children to understand where food comes from as well as allowing them to understand the time, care and attention that goes into producing it.
"To plan the garden we initially sent home questionnaires to look at ideas and what the children would benefit from best; from this we had lots of parent’s volunteer time and resources.
"One family created us a bug house out of reused wood and another donated plants and tyres which helped with cost and was a good way to demonstrate to the children how items can be reused to create something new.
"Additionally having spoken to the children about what fruit and vegetables they liked we bought a seed sack which provided detailed information about what and when to grow. The children have loved digging and planting and not everything has always turned out perfect but it has been thoroughly exciting."
Strengthening links between settings, parents and the planet
Involving parents in projects linked to your approach to eco-sustainability will strengthen your partnership with the parents, and help them to reinforce the same approach as part of their home learning environment and will support their own efforts to create a more eco-friendly home.
Maybe you can also give them some ideas to help get them started…..
— Love Food Hate Waste is a great website for supporting families in reducing food waste. There are lots of ideas from using seasonal food to cooking with leftovers, cooking with frozen food to shopping for food for less, particularly important now with the rising costs of food.
— This article on reducing use of plastic in the home on the Alliance’s Family Corner website is useful for families who have a young baby.
— The Woodland Trust is a great website for lots of ideas and ways for families to get involved in nature, from finding out about trees and wildlife, ways to attract birds and butterflies into their garden, or making a bug hotel to encourage minibeasts as well as ways to get involved in their local area.
— And the Wombles can help! Check out their website for lots of ideas and a series of short videos on topics you can share with parents such as:
- Reusing and recycling
- Reducing food waste
- Reducing energy usage at home
- Reducing litter
- Travelling smarter
- Creating wildlife friendly gardens
- Helping to care for the coast
Having a joint approach to eco-sustainability and reinforcing those messages in your setting and also in the home, will help children recognise the importance of this approach, and help them start to play their own small part in the journey.
In the words of Greta Thurnberg, you are never too small to make a difference!
This blog was published as part of the Alliance's National Week of Play.
To get the free National Week of Play resource pack which is full of play ideas please send us your details and we'll send you the link to the pack.