Champions: Nancy Weil, Bert Loosmore, Lucia Pirzio-Biroli
Intro: Its never too early to get small kids aware of and interested in issues around the environment and sustainabilty. We have children in preschool on Mercer Island, and would like the time they spend there to be consistent with some of our values around sustainability.
Click Here for: How To Green Your Preschool
- Classroom Discussions and Activities
- Environmentally Preferred Purchasing Policy
- Waste-Free Lunch Initiative
- Purchasing Policy for Parents Regarding School Parties
- 10 Things CoolMoms Do To Change the World
Status of Preschools Currently Engaged:
Background Info for New Preschools:
Purpose: to introduce the concepts of sustainability to the preschools on Mercer Island. There are two perceived aspects to this, namely
- adding something to the curriculum, focusing on preschoolers aged 3-5 years, about the importance of environmental sustainability, and
- improving the operations of the preschools to include more green practices.
A partial list of ideas can be found at 101 Ways to Green your Preschool. Although its long, its not intended to be complete. Also even though operational ideas are considered, some of the focus should be on the curriculum aspect, such as explaining to the kids why these practices are important, and letting kids participate as appropriate.
Some perceived difficulties with implementing sustainable practices at preschools include:
- what are the upfront and ongoing costs to preschools?
- how will training of staff occur?
- how will materials and curriculum be created?
- how much impact can the preschool have on energy usage given building ownership?
- should this effort be perceived as a new way of running the schools?
- We need to be realistic about the timeframe that will be needed to make changes.
- We need to make sure we use the existing teachers as a resource and get them involved from the start. What are they particularly interested in? What do they have experience with?
- Who might we collaborate with on developing the curriculum? It seems a number of places focus on K-12 (Islandwood, NEEC, Facing the Future) but not preschool.
- In the case we want to do some type of sustainability audit of the preschools, is there an existing resource to draw from?
- Should the educational focus here be on sustainability or merely the environment? Given we’re targeting this at 3-5 year olds, what types of messages can they understand that at least instilling an environmental ethic would be good enough for?
Links: A Google search for preschool sustainability found a program entitled little green steps in Australia. What a great name! Their “climbing the little green steps” guide contains some useful information, although maybe too Australia specific.
Other web resources (although none seem to be exactly what we’re after):
- Ecoliteracy.org Seems to be focused on education for sustainable living, however, I’m not sure they discuss much specific to the preschool level.
- Oregon Environmental Council (OEC) has specific information about the Eco-Healthy Child Care requirements. Do we have that type of thing in Washington State?
- Kinder Nature discussion about environmental education for preschoolers.
- Kids for Saving Earth but unclear how detailed of a curriculum they have.