Integrating Environment Education

A child’s first learning happens from the environment she belongs to. It is the most natural and effective tool of learning. The more we connect the child’s learning to the environment, the deeper and better the learning will be.

Children show appreciation for nature from a very young age. At a young age they are like sponge and absorb whatever comes in their contact. As they grow, their reactions are imitation of the adult behaviour they see around. They filter knowledge based on the influence of the environment around them. Providing learning opportunities about all things core, relevant and significant at preschool level ensures maximised lifelong learning for children. Hence, at our preschool Environment studies comes before the ABCs or other rote things for young children.

Our preschoolers are introduced to the environment education in small, simple steps. The various aspects of creation, preservation, conservation, sensitivity and respect of the environment - form an integral part of our learning process. The children at our place become farmers as they experience the process of creation. They dig and prepare soil, sow seeds, water regularly, clean weeds and check the growth of saplings. Once involved in the process of creation, preserving comes easy. They take care that no one plucks leaves, plays or walks over their plants.

Conservation translates into Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Reduce or ‘Zero Wastage’ mantra is practised at all levels. Water, electricity, paper, food, colours - all are collectively taken care of with this mantra in focus. How we can help ourselves and others by not wasting any of these – is regularly emphasised to our preschoolers. They consciously participate in this by reminding their friends, and alerting teachers if they notice the deviation in class or outside.

Empty cartons are covered creatively and reused to keep files, notebooks, class library books, toys, lost-n-found boxes etc. Empty ice cream boxes are used to stock colours, stationery, counting beans/seeds etc. Bottle lids, spoons, separators in pizza boxes etc are used by children for counting activities. Empty egg cartons and fruit trays are used as number counting trays, alphabet matching tools, picture matching tools etc. They are also used to make simple, creative models of teeth, puppets for story etc.

Newspaper reading is a daily feature in our Junior and Senior Kindergarten. Newspapers serve as a very important source of pictures for our preschoolers. In contrast to the pictures in most books, these pictures are very realistic and are exactly how children find things around them. These are shown to children, pasted on pieces of empty cereal boxes, laminated with tapes and used as handy flash cards and puzzles.

Earth worms, pets etc are brought to school, children are taken for field trips to meet the ‘animal friends’, they enact animal stories in class by taking up the character roles of animals in them - all to make them sensitive towards them and respect them as an integral part of their environment.

As part of our annual themes, we have also introduced our preschoolers to the various aspects of the five basic elements. Each of the five elements was covered through various activities over two months. Thus, in a complete session they explored the five elements. They have done games and activities around them and even put a mesmerizing performance based on these five elements. ‘Nature Nurturers’ has been our ongoing & consistent theme. It focuses on involving everyone in playing a more conscious and careful role towards caring for various aspects of our environment. These efforts reflect in our children being more aware and sensitive to their role towards caring for their future, by being sensible today.

These simple, basic activities help model the behaviour which cannot be taught otherwise. They understand and effortlessly put things back to use. They start being more creative by exploring the things all around them. It puts a foundation of lifelong learning in young learners which becomes a part of their nature, attitude and growing. It helps inculcate the sense of responsibility without even realising. If we nurture and grow these responsible children- there are ‘possibilities infinite’ of a beautiful planet for our children, and their children and theirs.

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