This is part two of a series on sustainability in an early learning setting and how to improve on this in relation to the Australian NQS. Read part one here!
Some ways I’ve explored and improved upon sustainability in services are by…
- Actively involving the team, families, community and children throughout all steps of unpacking the subject matter and highlighting our responsibilities, including my own brainstorming and research process. By involving everybody from the start, you are able to better utilise their passions/skillsets to drive it better and actively seek more family involvement within the service.
- Connecting with local sustainably minded community members, initiatives and organisations. Often they will have ways to connect and are usually more than willing to help/donate.
- Promoting the NQS elements by reviewing policies and procedures to suit a more holistic and informed approach, ensure these are in-line with the core values of sustainability.
- Fostering meaningful experiences and exploring these at the time of relevance by highlighting areas when they are being spontaneously investigated already. It’s the best time to actively engage anybody in a subject matter.
- Working together consistently to role model, show respect, care for and appreciate the natural environment while fostering children’s capacity to understand and respect the three tiers of sustainability, as well as the interdependence between people, plants, animals and the land.
- Go outside and explore as there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing and a great opportunity to critically reflect.
When being assessed and rated for this area we must ensure that sustainable practices such as recycling, reusing items, saving energy and water conservation are genuinely embedded into our daily routines and practices at the service. This means that children should not need to be prompted to participate in these tasks, but are already actively involved and doing this naturally with an understanding for why. From an NQF assessor’s point of view this can be easily tested for authenticity when observing the children’s behaviour. As their responses and choices will display the level of understanding they genuinely possess and involvement-opportunities regularly accessible to them. #FACT – Children who aren’t normally supported to participate, simply won’t actively lead their own learning or take charge of their world as independently as children who are regularly supported to do so.
So the answer to the initial question is that sustainability is an underpinning program priority and not just a fly-by-night area of focus as some experiences can be i.e. animals or transport. It should be in everything we do every day. A bit like relationships, programming or in the way health and safety should be incorporated, as an ongoing priority all the time. Sustainability was not intended to be something we focus on for a day or a week, but is a notion to be supported in depth – across all aspects of service delivery. And don’t forget to be realistic while making plans for improvement, growing as a team & building upon current practice (by using shared sustainable thinking)… as individually we are one drop, but together we are an ocean.
We cannot solve the world’s problems using the same thinking we used to create them – Albert Einstein
Written by Kelly Sims – Education Consultant Education and Care Connections Tasmania. Read Part One in the sustainability series here!