Local kindergarten creating sustainable kids for the future
Tropical landscaped gardens, boat playgrounds, worm farms, veggie gardens and mud kitchens are not the first things that come to mind when you think of a regular kindergarten.
However, this is what you will find at the Port Douglas community kindergarten where they are teaching kids more than just how to read and write.
In a shakeup from the usual curriculum, the kindergarten largely incorporates sustainability and eco-friendly practices into all its teachings, so that the students will know how to look after the beautiful ecosystems that surround us here in Port Douglas.
The centre’s director Jade Philp said they have a passion for sustainability and want to ingrain it into the students at a young age so we can all enjoy the environment in the future.
“We really value it and everything that we do we bring it in and we find it really easy to incorporate into all the children's learning,” she said.
They do this through a range of practical ways such as teaching the kids to identify what is recyclable in their lunch packs and which of their four bins their rubbish should go into, including one for the food scraps for their worm farm.
“We talk to them about what happens with the rubbish and that it's not just that we need to put it in the bin, but that we need to limit it from the start.
“The children are learning it from the beginning so that through life they've got those habits,” she said.
The not-for-profit C&K affiliate community kindergarten, which has been operating in Port Douglas for 16 years, has also turned its focus to nature-based learning where a lot of the teaching is done out in the garden.
Philp said the children love the large outdoor area and nature play space and it is out here where they can really teach the kids about the environment.
“We have a large, lush, tropical garden in our backyard and we are also a sustainable service running on solar, water tanks and eco-friendly practices.
“We limit plastic in our spaces as much as we can and have a lot of wooden toys and wooden materials,” Philp said.
She added that the children have also now become advocates for change themselves.
“They see someone doing something that's not an environmentally friendly practice then they educate them and tell them that there's a better alternative.”
Philp said that a big motivation behind the sustainability push is that they need to move with the times. The children are exposed to these ideas through the media and it is something that the children of the future are going to have to face.
“The children are where we start with a whole change in the framework of the mind and how we think about things, so if we don't start with the children now then our future might not be very positive,” she said.
Along with the sustainable approach, the centre follows a pre-prep curriculum taught by experienced teachers, however, a lot of the teaching is very much child-led, which means the teachers teach to the children’s interests.
“The children walk in and something might spark their interest and as educators, we follow along with that,” said Philp.
The centre is situated on the Port Douglas State School grounds across from the Prep room so it sets the students up for when they start school.
“We go and visit the Preps all the time so then moving into Prep is a really natural progression.”
The kindergarten has many plans to grow, build and better the centre for the future including possibly extending their hours to help with parents work commitments.
“We want to work with the community and cater to their needs,” said Philp.
“We want people to come in and see the sort of program that we offer; then they can see that it really is all worth it.”
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