Sustainable Education for Children


Sustainable Education for Early Childhood Education and Care – By Cheryl Hadland

Sustainability is something that can and I think must be embedded into the daily routines and activities in an Early Childhood Education and Care setting, no matter what the size of facility, or location.

Habits built during the early years can be sustained throughout life so starting them as soon as possible is a good thing.  The capacity of children in the early years to learn is never surpassed again in their lives so never underestimate what they can learn just by watching you role modelling sustainability and by engaging in sustainable activities in a sustainable environment.

There are fundamental values and an ethos that relate to sustainability, and these can either be linked to social, financial and environmental aspects and/or to children’s rights.  However, I found that the well researched Environmental Rating Scale for Sustainable Development produced by OMEP provides a wonderful scale to refer to (see

Some examples of sustainable education in good settings, include; many books, pictures, displays show images of men and women that do not conform to social and cultural stereotypes; children regularly use services such as libraries, communal vegetable gardens; children take part in story telling to encourage the discussion of social and cultural sustainability and interdependence;  children are involved in purchasing decisions, recycling, conserving resources; low income family children are supported to access and participate in projects such as outings, music lessons;  there are many animals and plants in the setting;  children are encouraged to identify a range of environmental protection issues and to suggest their own ideas for solving them; children routinely participate in projects and group activities to explore, investigate and understand environmental issues in their daily lives.


What we do at Tops Day Nurseries

At Tops Day Nurseries there are many things we do on a day to day basis to ensure we are being sustainable, these include; DIY wet wipes, reusable nappies, natural resources, solar panels, electrical vehicles, home grown herbs and vegetables, Bio-D cleaning products, rooms to support brain development, wet bags, intergenerational visits (to care homes) and much more.

The curriculum that we provide for the children also supports them in setting foundations for sustainable citizenship and we are drawing upon international resources developed by OMEP and UNESCO in developing this sustainability curriculum further in partnership with parents. Further details may be found on:

To find out more about what we have done to be sustainable click here.

There is a deeply embedded respect for all life, whether human, animal or plant in a sustainable setting, the children and the adults really care about their environment and eachother, they are shown and taught empathy.

So whether you choose Eco Schools or Plastic Free Schools, SchemaPlay, Tops Forest School, or do your own thing, sustainability is something that every child can easily learn about and practice every day, through appropriately trained and supported practitioners/educators/teachers.

Cheryl Hadland

Click here for more information about how Tops Day Nurseries incorporate sustainability into the Early Years.

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