Teaching pre-school children about the environment
“Mummy! I just turned off the lights in Johan’s room to save energy”. So said a 5-year-old girl from a kindergarten participating in the “Leuchtpol” Education for Sustainable Development project. Since 2009, more than 3,200 early childhood educators from all over Germany have been trained to tackle energy and environmental issues with pre-school children.
Six months after the training, 97 per cent of educators are convinced that teaching energy conservation to young children is important. The educators encourage 3 to 6 year old children to learn and engage with energy and environment issues in a playful manner, for instance by discovering solar and wind power through play and hands-on activities.
What children learn in early childhood strongly influences their further learning, health and behaviour. They discover the world, acquire language and comprehension skills, learn to reason and express ideas, to relate to others and live together. As young children are curious by nature, eager to learn and sensitive to the natural environment, early childhood education programmes should introduce young children to sustainability issues in ways that are appropriate and relevant to their needs and age.
At the end of 2011 some 2,038 kindergartens, involved in the “Leuchtpol” project, were using ESD as their educational guiding concept. By the end of 2012, the project aims to reach 4,000 German kindergartens (10 per cent of all facilities in Germany).