Reinforcing environmental ethics at an early age can help create a strong foundation for children to become ethical, good-natured and caring adults.
As children enter the preschool era, they start to develop their own ideas of right and wrong. They begin to understand the feelings and rights of people and other species, such as trees and insects. This is the first ethic of permaculture – Care for the Earth.
Care for the Earth
Teaching preschool children to appreciate nature forms the base of the ethic Care for the Earth. Through this perception of nature and life, we recognise the values and importance of our environment.
Showing gratitude towards nature should be encouraged young. Curiously enough, these are critical learning years – we learn to walk, talk, and know that sharing is caring.
Take the time to enjoy nature with small children. Softly encourage your child to play with soil. Invite children to plant flowers, hardy succulents and/or a tree of their favourite fruit. They can watch the tree grow, measuring their height against the tree.
Children also begin to develop a strong sense of fairness and what is acceptable behaviour. Setting clear boundaries, expectations, and consequences for moral behaviour can help preschoolers clarify their global family values. This reinforces the second and third permaculture ethic of care for people and fair share.
Your backyard may be the most essential learning space your child/ren have. Close to home, you can create activities that support the whole systems design that nature maintains.
Below are some ideas presented in the Planet Schooling book – How to create a living laboratory in your backyard. If it all feels a little confusing to create a whole-system thinking curriculum, you can purchase the book here.The book will help your organise the experiences.
So, why not start early? Educating the little ones to appreciate nature and lose their fear of animals and insects is a significant first step. Try to integrate sustainable activities, such as the proposals below, into your curriculum areas. Discover how to implement permaculture activities here.