It's never too early to start thinking about sustainability - just ask three Bay of Plenty Enviroschools that have started the new year with awards recognising this.
Botanical Road Kindergarten in Tauranga, Tiaki Early Childhood Centre in Rotorua and Te Puna Kindergarten in the Western Bay of Plenty all became bronze Enviroschools last month. The awards recognise the work put in by the pupils and staff throughout 2012 and the changes that they'd made.
Regional Council Chairman John Cronin said it was terrific to see the sorts of changes being made in each of the three centres by the youngsters.
"We're talking about three and four-year-olds who are taking what they're learning during the day and passing it on to their parents and guardians," Mr Cronin said.
"In a recent survey of parents from 14 Bay of Plenty kindergartens, 83 percent reported their children had told their families about the environmental learning they were doing at kindergarten, to do with energy, water and reducing waste."
Enviroschools is a sustainability programme that encourages schools and kindergartens to set goals for their community. Progress is recognised by becoming a bronze, silver or green-gold Enviroschool. All three have introduced sustainability activities such as water conservation, waste minimisation, sustainable transport, and energy.
Some of the work carried out at the centres includes:
Botanical Road Kindergarten is most proud of their bird table. The children had recognised a problem of what to do with bread scraps possibly attracting rats in their compost. They came up with a solution, designed and built a table for the birds. It's located near a window so they can watch the birds without disturbing them. They are reducing waste, problem solving and learning about wildlife all at the same time.
Tiaki Early Childhood Centre has made the most of their natural surroundings. This includes a bike track, feeding the hens and worms, turning the tap on to let the collected rainwater from the roof be used in their sandpit play, and watering their vegetable garden. The students are taking what they learn about sustainability out into the community with walks collecting rubbish, and collecting paper from their homes to bring for Paper from Homes programme.
Te Puna Kindergarten has a river in their playground, fed by a rain water tank, with a tap the children can access. This has taught the children lessons in water sustainability, following an occasion when they forgot to turn off the tap, resulting in the river running dry. Children are enjoying water play, learning to treat water as precious at kindergarten, and taking those lessons home.
Enviroschools is sponsored by Bay of Plenty Regional Council with support from Tauranga City Council and Tauranga Region Kindergarten Association.