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A sustainable future

Regulus // Issue 3 // November 2022

More news for Pre-school

Sustainability, healthy ways of being, connecting with nature, and respecting the environment are some of the rich learning experiences which are helping to prepare Pre-school children to live as global citizens, says Head of Pre-school, Mandy Jenkins. “Although we are at the start of our sustainability journey, we have a lot of ideas to help us reach our long-term vision to be rubbish free and to use more recycled materials in the Pre‑school. We also encourage the children to be kaitiaki of the environment and have a deep respect for Papatūānuku (Mother Earth figure).”

Families are encouraged to provide nourishing food for their Pre-school children in rubbish free lunchboxes, without the use of disposable packaging or individually wrapped items, says teacher, Nadine Freeborn, who is leading the Pre-school’s sustainability focus. “We are working towards rubbish free lunchboxes and have regular conversations with the children around things like packaging, reusable containers, and how they can minimise waste. We also talk about composting food scraps, and how compost can feed the soil and help Papatūānuku’s tummy.” The relationship tamariki have with Papatūānuku is based on whakapapa, aroha, and respect, she says.

Nadine has a passion for gardening and developing lots of green spaces in the Pre-school’s indoor and outdoor environments. The children love to spend time helping in the vegetable garden and caring for the plants, she says. “Connecting with nature and learning how to care for living things is an important part of our philosophy.” This aspect of our Pre‑school philosophy draws strongly from the Belonging|Mana Whenua Strand of Te Whāriki, the New Zealand Early Childhood curriculum, and its learning outcomes around tamariki knowing that they belong and having a strong sense of connection to others and to their environment.

The children also visit the large recycling bins dotted around the Secondary School on regular walks with kaiako. “The children carry their brown paper bags filled with recyclables and cardboard to throw in. It makes them feel like they are doing their part. They love it,” says Nadine.

Talking with the children about alternatives for non-environmentally friendly products such as glitter, is another way the teachers are sharing sustainable values, says Mandy. “Hopefully the conversations we have with children in the Pre-school lead to further conversations at home with whānau.”

Mandy would love to connect the Pre‑school children with Secondary School students on the College’s Sustainability Council to work on initiatives together in the future.

“Although we are currently making small steps towards greater sustainability in the Pre-school, there is big thinking behind what we are doing. If children learn about respecting the environment and caring for the planet now, it is something that will hopefully stay with them throughout their lives.”

Growing sustainability practices in the Pre-school enhance learning opportunities for children and their appreciation for our planet.