Hello everyone, welcome to our July newsletter! As always, we provide an overview of what is happening within our childcare community. This month we will focus on teaching sustainability principles and practices to children.
Topic of the month - Teaching sustainability to young children
As we continually experience drastic changes in the weather with strong and heavy rainfalls that flood parts of the country, young children are highly aware of these weather conditions and events that also disrupt their learning cycle. While these weather conditions may be inevitable and hard to predict, much more mitigate, teaching young children about the importance of having a sustainable environment that breeds better weather conditions can be a key in letting them inherit a better world to live in.
To cultivate a mindset of sustainability, young children must be able to connect and appreciate nature. Having exploration walks, being outdoors as much as possible, and having the freedom to explore and interact with natural elements increases young children’s awareness and appreciation for nature.
Engaging all their five senses to observe, interact, and learn about their natural environment helps children learn faster and better. Seeing busy ants lining up gathering food to observing birds pecking or calling each other from tree branches helps children see various forms of
Carbon footprint is a measure of how much greenhouse gases one generates through their actions. There are many carbon footprint calculators online designed to estimate how much carbon footprint one creates. For example, a calculator created by Carbon Positive Australia can help one calculate how much carbon footprint one creates in various categories ranging from energy, water, food & drink, and waste.
While some of these categories may be too advanced and complex for young children to grasp yet, one can start a simple calculation based on things they consume or create such as water, food & drink or waste.
Learning how much carbon their activities release into the atmosphere and how these carbon gases contribute to the greenhouse effect, children can then find ways to reduce their carbon footprint.
Recycling & upcycling
To reduce carbon footprint and lower the impact on the environment, it’s better and easier to get young children into the habit of recycling and upcycling their things. Reducing waste that goes straight to landfills by recycling and upcycling not only extends the use and life of an object, it also hampers down consumption and consumerism which contributes to excess waste generation.
Aside from recycling and upcycling, also practising proper waste management and segregation can help waste and sanitation managers have an easier time handling waste. As for organic waste, teach children how food waste like banana peels and leftover food can be transformed into organic fertiliser by making a compost. Young children learn best and retain knowledge when they are actively involved in the process.
Loose parts play
A great example of recycling and upcycling is to use remnants of dysfunctional toys, and less-than-perfect learning aids and books in your loose parts play. Giving a new lease of life on toys and other objects instead of going straight to the bin creates less waste. This becomes a concrete example of recycling as part of building sustainable practices and habits for young children.
Furthermore, opting to collect sticks, stones, leaves, and other natural elements which can be reused as building blocks in loose parts play is also another way of gathering items for an activity while lessening the need for manufactured toys that are harder to recycle or dispose of properly.
While water is a renewable resource, water fit for consumption remains to be a sustainable issue. Across Australia, as droughts followed by bushfires keep happening while heavy rainfall inundate coastal areas, there is a great imbalance in water supply and demand across the country. Teaching young children about water conservation through sustainable practices can help transform them into environmentally-aware citizens.
What to Avoid When Teaching Sustainability
Young minds are malleable and absorb information like a sponge. However, as they quickly learn, toddlers can also be quite steadfast, if not stubborn, with what they learn. Their young minds are not sensitive enough yet to nuanced grey areas which is why it’s important for early childhood educators to be careful in teaching young children sustainability issues and practices lest young children become extremists in terms of following sustainable practices to a tee.
Avoid overwhelming them with the scale of the problem.
While the climate crisis and sustainability issues affect everyone, avoid discussing issues at a macro level that can lead to young children feeling small, ineffective, and helpless. Instead, bring down the conversation level to community and household level. This way, they can easily grasp the issues, its consequences, and actions they can undertake to be part of the solution.
Refrain from advocating for an untenable complete overhaul of their current lifestyle.
This is the best time to teach sustainability practices to young children. As young as they are, they can easily build up sustainable habits which they will stick to for the rest of their life. However, while teaching them is one thing, early childhood educators must also ensure that these practices can easily be integrated into the children’s current lifestyle.
While eating more local and plant-based foods is great for the environment, it may not be an easy course of action for every child and their family to adhere to. Instead, young children may be able to practise mindful eating habits that prefer local, in-season products while not becoming a hard rule for their eating lifestyle.
Instead of focusing on climate disasters, highlight recent successes in raising environmental sustainability.
It can be easy to focus on all the negative effects and disheartening news about destructive weather events that have been caused by climate change. However, focusing on the positive effects brought about by sustainable practices can give young children a stronger motivation to adopt these practices and habits in their daily lives.
Highlight local sustainable businesses and leaders in the community which spearhead efforts in promoting environmentally-friendly practices. Talk about recent drives and meetups for recycling or beach clean-ups. Seeing sustainable practices done by local people in the community lets young children understand how local communities can contribute to global efforts in making their environment a better place to live in.
0-12 month development
Baby Safety Basics for Parents and Caregivers
Authors: Barbara Solomon
Babies seem to be so fragile that there are a lot to worry about in preventing any harm to happen to them. In this article, find tips and advice on usual hazards for babies such as drowning, burns and scalds, choking, and even baby car seat.
Find tips and advice on baby safety in this article.
1-2 year development
Why children learn how to say ‘spoon’ before ‘sky’
Authors: Emiko Muraki and Penny Pexman
Do you want to give your child a boost in language development? Give them physical experiences that let them touch and hold objects as they learn what those are called. Researchers have found that children learn words faster when they get to interact with it.
Know more about how children learn words through interactions with objects near them here.
2-3 year development
This is the biggest indicator of a kid’s happiness, according to recent survey
Author: Nadene van der Linden
Researchers have found that sleep is the biggest indicator of a child’s happiness. Simply put, children that get a good quality of sleep are more likely to report feelings of happiness. It further maps out that family, reading, and art are children’s biggest sources of happiness.
To know more about improving your child’s quality of sleep, read this article.
3-4 year development
Compassionate deception: Do children tell prosocial lies?
Author: Gwen Dewar, Ph.D.
They say children always tell the truth but it might not be the case when they start learning that other people have feelings, too. This clearly shows their level of empathy. However, the motive for young children in why they would tell white lies or prosocial lies may be harder to discern.
Learn how and why young children start to tell white lies to spare other people’s feelings here.
4-5 year development
How To Motivate Child To Do Homework
Author: Pamela Li
Transitioning from play-based learning to rigorous academics with take-home assignments may be a stark change for your child. While play may still reign supreme in your young child’s mind, there are ways to motivate your child to view homework positively and be keen on finishing them.
Read on to find how to motivate your child in doing their homework and learning even out of the classroom.
Lifting Ice Cube Experiment
Practice children’s fine motor skills like magic by having them lift ice cubes without using their bare hands or a spoon. Instead let salt do its magic, or shall we say chemical process of crystallisation.
From lifting ice to making bubbles out of dry ice, invoke children’s curiosity and wonder as they watch a solid transform into gas, bypassing the liquid form. This STEM experiment is great for kids to watch, however adults must take precautions while handling dry ice by using gloves as it can cause skin damage.
Have children create art and discover the magic of magnetism in this magnet painting craft. With use of a magnet and metal pieces that can create beautiful patterns on paper, have children practise their fine motor skills moving the magnet under a tub to control the pattern-making metal object.
Using water, food colouring, glitters, and glue, mix these ingredients in a bottle and create a calming, rainbow sensory bottles. In this sensory activity, children can learn about reflection, light refraction, and color mixing to achieve a different colour outcome.