We hear from Mike Sinclair & Mabel Clarkson as they talk about their son Henry’s experience at one of our eco-friendly nurseries and the impact this has had on his development and education.
Climate change is set to play a central role in children’s lives and a growing number of parents, like Mike Sinclair and Mabel Clarkson from Dorset, are starting to realise the importance of teaching their children green skills from a young age so they can start to create meaningful change. The couple have put their son Henry, who is just over a year and a half, in an eco-friendly nursery that is leading the way when it comes to sustainability.
Henry attends Bearwood Tops Day Nursery, which is part of the Tops Day Nurseries group passionate about reducing their environmental footprint, to protect the future of the younger generation. Tops Day Nurseries has a goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2025 and puts sustainability at the forefront of its activities and childcare practices on a daily basis.
Nurseries help shape children’s behaviour
Prior to starting school, a child’s first educators are their parents. However with over 90% of three and four-year-olds in the UK attending nursery, childcare professionals are also hugely influential.
Research has shown early childhood education and care can have a positive effect on children’s educational, cognitive, behavioural and social outcomes.
Teaching children to be eco-friendly
Our founder Cheryl Hadland wants “to educate the children of today, so that they, in turn, can influence the way future generations live”.
All of our nurseries use reusable nappies, homemade wipes, recycle where they can and offer children food with no added sugar with vegan and vegetarian options. All one use plastic is banned and as far as possible children play with natural resources.
Educating children about recycling
Mike and Mabel chose Bearwood Tops Day Nursery for their son Henry partly due to its location as it is their closest nursery.
“But we were also really impressed with their ethics. They want to teach children about what is important like recycling and caring for the world around us.
“We compared it to other nurseries and found they had that extra element of educating children about the environment and where we get our food from.”
Henry has been there for eight months and “loves it”.
Henry ‘loves learning about nature’
“He adapted to it so quickly and does two days a week. He loves the variety of different activities and all the arts and crafts and the water play outside. He understands about recycling and loves learning about nature and the world around him.
“He has learnt so many new things since going to nursery. Henry’s social skills have really developed since going to nursery. He is very inquisitive and has grown so much in confidence.”Mabel Clarkson
All nursery children have to wear reusable nappies
Tops Day Nurseries have a policy that all our children have to wear reusable nappies while attending nursery.
Mike and Mabel admit: “It wasn’t a thing we had heard of before. But we were completely up for it when we realised the impact that disposable nappies have on the environment and it is great the nursery is doing what they can to reduce the number of disposable nappies being used.
“It is not something we have adopted at home. We are not quite brave enough for that and we are trying to cut down on using the washing machine due to the cost of living at the moment.
“These kind of initiatives at nursery are really good and it is nice as although they do these green initiatives there they don’t preach about it and try to make you feel guilty if you don’t do the same thing at home.”
Mike says: “I think it is important to be mindful that not everyone feels the same way.”
Parents are also influenced by eco-friendly nurseries
It is not just children who can be influenced by the green practices of a nursery, it is also the parents.
“We have learnt a lot from the nursery and Henry has also learnt such a lot, like how to repurpose items like toilet rolls, egg boxes and water bottles so they are used in arts and crafts. Now he sees water bottles are more than just a water bottle. He picks them up and shakes them and wants to do creative things with them.
“He is being taught about sustainability and so are we.
“We are a 20 minute walk from nursery and we have decided when we can to walk to nursery as it gets us out in the fresh air and we spend time talking and interacting with Henry and it also reduces our carbon footprint.”Mike Sinclair
Diverse range of food at nursery
The diverse range of food on offer to Henry at nursery has increased his knowledge of different flavours and different cultures.
“He is learning more about food and trying different types of food that he wouldn’t try at home. It is so good for his development.
“He is getting the chance to try food like vegan chilli and jackfruit macaroni cheese.
“All the food they offer the children has a lot of vegetables in and they get the opportunity to try a lot of vegan food. It is good as they can find out for themselves that vegan food is still very enjoyable.
“They have a set menu and the children don’t get to choose what they eat which is good as it means they do try a huge variety of food that we may not give them at home. Henry has eaten food we haven’t tried.”Mabel Clarkson
“Yes, the range of food they are given at nursery is great. I have to admit I was a bit of a caveman and if I didn’t have meat and potatoes I wouldn’t be happy. But it has also made me more open to eating plant based food.”Mike Sinclair
More and more nurseries are embracing the green agenda and working hard to instill in children practices such as recycling to reduce their carbon footprint that will hopefully stay with them throughout life.
Going to a sustainable nursery ‘will set Henry up for life’
“We feel that going to a Tops Day Nursery with all its focus on being green and sustainable will set Henry up for life,” says Mabel.
“And we have definitely become more mindful of the impact we are having on the planet so we are trying to do our bit more to help minimise the effect we have.”
Parents play a crucial role in raising children that are environmentally aware and who want to do their bit to help save the earth.
Teach a child to care for our planet and it will ‘last a lifetime’
Sending them to an eco-friendly nursery can really help as a child’s belief system is formed at a young age and seeing other people outside their parents practising green skills will help shape their behaviour for years to come.
Sir David Attenborough is a strong advocate of spreading the message about climate change and the need to care for our planet among young children, saying “teach a five-year-old that and it will last a lifetime”.
To find out more about green and sustainable nurseries click here, or to read more about what Tops has done to become a sustainable nursery click here.
To read the original article click here: daynurseries.