At Little Hands Daycare we wholeheartedly believe that educating staff, children and families around environmental sustainability is crucial in the current climate. This is why we have decided to aim for an Eco Schools accreditation and hopefully be awarded a green flag for doing so.
We have now been on this stage of our eco journey since Autumn of 2022 and our teams across both branches have truly embraced the concept of sustainability. We have formed Eco committees which are made up of both staff, children and families and we have the opportunity to meet regularly and share ideas. We created our ‘green board’ to display all of our Eco schools information such as our environmental review, action plan, meeting minutes, activity ideas and also our eco committee.
A key part of the process involved conducting an environmental review where we met to discuss our current environments both indoors and outdoors and reflect on anything we felt was important to adapt or change to create a more eco-friendly space. This was a really beneficial experience and really highlighted what we were already achieving but more importantly any areas for development. This also sparked some initial ideas with the staff team of projects they could begin to focus on with the children.
We then chose three key topics to focus on and put together our action plan. The whole journey continued to be collaborative and the staff team contributed their ideas for which topics we felt reflected what we were already trying to achieve as a setting.
Our first topic was Energy and this came at a time when the general population had begun to feel the pressure of the rising costs of living and everyone was considering how they can reduce costs. We educated the children on the importance of turning off electrics which were not in use and we held energy free sessions. This involved children really enjoying some time within the nursery environment with the lights turned off as well as utilising sensory areas to offer a dim light with added light blocks, torches and light boxes which are battery powered to add more light. The children thought this was a great adventure and they especially liked to create dens to explore further. As we continued through this topic we focussed on different ways to save energy and we sent home energy saving tips to families to consider at home. Within time children gained a better understanding of what they could do to save energy and on the whole the setting has adopted a more considered approach to how much energy we use.
We then moved onto our Biodiversity topic which involved us considering all of the many ways to encourage more wildlife and to adapt our outdoor provision to welcome in more of the natural world. During this topic we looked at animal habitats and extended our learning to think about ocean pollution and the importance of reducing ocean waste. The children loved exploring tuff trays with sea animals and pollution which they could clear themselves and rescue the animals.
We did some research together to learn about which animals were endangered and the different things that we can do to help protect them. We also looked at climate change and supported the children to understand more about what this means. We designed and made bird feeders and looked at different animal habitats. We also enjoyed many different animal themed yoga sessions too focusing on how we felt calm and relaxed.
We also took part in the Great Big School Clean initiative from Keep Britain Tidy. We purchased some new litter pickers and pledged to work in our local community collecting up to 4 bags of litter. We went out in small groups and we even looked at our own nursery garden, ensuring any rubbish which may have blown in was promptly removed. This would allow local wildlife to explore freely without risk of harm.
We also introduced our recycling stations into pre-school, we have 2 bags one for paper and card and another for tin and plastic. Children are encouraged to think about their waste and what items are recyclable and they are also welcome to bring in things from home should they wish to.
Finally we moved onto our School Grounds topic which was perfectly timed with the refurbishment of our outdoor provision. As a committee we looked at ways to add as many natural resources as possible. We extended our current digging area to create more space for our mud kitchen and then also add a sensory garden. We created an outdoor classroom which will double up as a perfect reading nook. We added an abundance of wooden planters where we will be growing mainly wildflowers with some additional planters to grow our own vegetables, and we also have purchased some small easy to maintain trees all of which the children will be responsible for caring for and nurturing. We have not finished just yet, we also added some brand new astro turf, a new sandpit and replaced all of the bark in our forestry area. We are still working on some finishing touches and our fantastic outdoor coordinators will continue to adapt the space and oversee children’s learning.
Our journey through the Eco schools accreditation has been so positive and beneficial. Our staff team have really embraced the changes and are always considering how they can promote environmental sustainability throughout everyday practice and how they can educate the children and build their understanding. The children have much more awareness of the difference that they can make and the importance of things such as saving energy, litter picking, taking care of wildlife, recycling and so much more.
We plan on continuing with our eco schools journey in the future as each year we will cover 3 different topics which will continue to have an impact on our environment. If we all play our part, the future for our children should be much greener.