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Nau Mai Haere mai. Welcome to Mairtown Kindergarten's blog.

21 Princes Street, Kensington, Whangarei, New Zealand

Phone: 09 437 2742

Email: mairtown@nka.org.nz

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Friday, 15 September 2017

Nurturing sustainable practices – the beauty of the outdoor environment

At Mairtown Kindergarten we have an appreciation for nature and the natural environment and all that it has to offer our children. One part of this notion is that we want our children to develop an appreciation of their own, about how special nature is in our world.
Although sustainable practices have always been something that we have been mindful of as a team we understand there is so much more we can improve on to better the outcomes for children’s learning in this area, as well as developing better practice to support our environment and our world.

"I know how to garden because I do it with my family. We planted grass you know and plants!" (Carter)

After engaging in evaluative practice as a team we came up with some focuses for the year in terms of implementing experiences and opportunities to engage the children in developing a sustainable mindset. One of these focuses was "How can we enhance our sustainability practices in our outdoor area and promote our culture of eco-literacy?"

"I'm gardening with Nonna Peg, we are gardening plants and flowers with my friends." (Juno)

With this in mind I have been working at making sure there are opportunities for the children to be a part of sustainable practices in our outdoor area in the forms of gathering food from our garden and eating it, planting it, feeding our worms in the worm farm, and making garden food in our new compost bin. While working with the children during these learning experiences I have also been making sure that I talk about why we are doing them and asking them questions about why they think it’s important.

The children’s desire to help out and be involved in experiences like this is so delightful and also appears contagious as they all rally around to see what is happening. They have a real sense of ownership in all that they do and they are passionate about looking after the environment that they enjoy and play amongst. When I think about this it reminds me of the Māori concept of Kaitiakitanga which means guardianship, protection, preservation or sheltering. It is a way of managing the environment, based on the traditional Māori world view. 

"These worms are good eaters, they ate all our food." (Lucas) 

"The worms are so good at eating banana skin. I don't like eating banana skin." (Olivia)

“I’m making compost!!! For our garden food!”  (Maxwell)

Many of the children at Mairtown already have a great wealth of knowledge of the importance of looking after our environment and I know that this has been instilled in them from rich experiences that they have often have with family outside of kindergarten. It is lovely to know that they are having the concept of looking after their environment fostered and supported both at home and at kindergarten. We have also been very lucky to have had family become a part of the process, by bringing in plants and seedlings, and planting them with the children.

“Teaching children about the natural world is not just a nice thing to do - it is vital for the future of our children and the future of all life. Children are naturally curious and open to learning about nature, but in an increasingly urban society we often need to consciously create opportunities to help children bond with nature and learn about the environment.”

"I'm getting really muddy hands but thats okay because they need to get muddy when planting the garden." (Archie)

I feel that it is a very important part of my job to support children in gaining knowledge about sustainable practices and the importance behind this. I love that we get to celebrate the small, yet important, learning opportunities like feeding our worms that makes fertiliser for our garden, or making sure our fruit is harvested so it doesn’t rot on the ground. Taking time to incorporate these practices into our daily interactions with the environment is really important.

"Can I help you plant? I like getting plants growing." (Isla)

Another concept that comes into play while engaging in these experiences is ‘eco-literacy’. Having discussions with the children and role modelling sustainability practices is a wonderful way to be on the right track in terms of awaking your eco literacy.
“Eco literacy is “the ability to understand the natural systems that make life on earth possible. To be eco literate means understanding the principles of ecological communities (ie: ecosystems) and using those principles for creating sustainable human communities.”

This sounds like a heavy and huge topic to delve into with young children, however I know from past experiences that they are very open to learning about social responsibilities. Sustainability and eco literacy falls in to this realm as taking care of the environment is the job of not one person alone, but of many. I have already seen many of our children being wonderful role models for each other, sharing their ideas and knowledge, and thinking about being mindful within our outdoor environment. I must admit that spending these kinds of moments with the children makes work that more fulfilling and beautiful.

"These seeds will take 20 days to grow into plants, you need to give them dirt and water and help them grow." (Nika) 

-Ko te whenua te waiu mo nga uri whakatipu-
The land will provide sustenance for future generations

"We are growing sunset flowers! They will grow because we are looking after them. We will count the days to watch them grow. I think it will be two days!" (Aris)

Nāku noa, nā,

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fantastic learning taking place here! It is always inspiring to see what is happening at Mairtown Kindy - keep up the great work!