Roberta Jull Family Day Care - Cathy Willey
Mundarda Child Care Centre
Sustainability is embedded in the philosophy of Mundarda Child Care Centre in Seville Grove. Staff at Mundarda consciously reduce the amount of waste the centre produces. If something is broken, they will consider how it can be repaired. Paper use is minimised by using electronic communication as much as possible, such as the use of an app to communicate with parents. Materials for children to build and create with are sourced from family members and from REmida, a creative waste reuse centre.
Energy use is reduced by hanging out washing to dry, using daylight instead of lights where possible and being careful with air-conditioner use. When children go on excursions, they walk or use trains as much as possible, further reducing their impact on the environment. Children learn about natural cycles through keeping silk worms and growing mushrooms and save water by reusing handwashing water on the centre’s gardens.
Throughout the year children learn about and celebrate many cultures through events such as the Diwali festival of light and NAIDOC week. They have also been on excursions to Champion Centre to hear Aboriginal Dreaming stories.
In 2016, Mundarda began their Bush Kinder Program which provides opportunities for young children to spend time in natural areas in and around Armadale, discovering the animals, plants, rocks, soil and other features of our bush – and just having fun!
Mundarda staff sought advice from the City of Armadale about suitable sites to visit, where children could experience the bush, whilst also having access to hygiene facilities. Educators and families at Mundarda are excited about the excursions, which are run in leisurely and unstructured ways.
On their visits children are able to experience the weather and seasons and learn about the needs of plants and animals. The Bush Kinder Program helps to build many skills – from language and vocabulary and gross and fine motor development to developing empathy, ‘helping the environment’ and ‘working together’. Afterwards, back at the Centre, children and staff create interactive displays with collected materials and photographs.
Bush Kinder experiences are recognized as being of high value in early childhood education. They develop a sense of place in young children and can foster a life-long sense of environmental stewardship. Claire Siaus at Mundarda is very happy to be contacted for more information about the Centre’s program. Email or phone 9497 3091.
Sustainability Case Studies
Reducing, reusing, recycling and producing are central principles at Cathy Willey’s family day care service in Mount Richon. Cathy, who is a Roberta Jull Family Day Care educator, is a keen organic gardener and has created a number of systems that allow children to learn about growing food and reducing waste through everyday routines.
After meals, the children help to use food scraps to make compost, feed the chickens or add to the extensive worm farm. The worm farm includes seven containers of worms and the leachate and castings are used on Cathy’s vegetable garden and fruit trees. Using food scraps this way is such an embedded practice that Cathy says “We do these things without even thinking”.
Rather than using pesticides, Cathy blends plants with pest controlling properties and adds these to the water tanks the garden is watered from (rain water and water from the air conditioner are used). She and the children also remove snails by hand. The garden provides a chance for the children to learn about what plants need to grow and also to use their natural curiosity and practice persistence “If something doesn’t work out we try to find out why and learn how to do it better next time.”
The children enjoy planting, watering, picking and eating fruit and vegetables from the garden, equipped with child-sized gloves and tools. Cathy makes meals for the children from the garden as well as making preserves and giving produce to families of the children at her service.
Cathy reduces waste and chemical use, as well as saving money, by making hygiene and cleaning products, such as surface cleaners, window cleaners, soap, toothpaste and shampoo bars, herself Instead of using disposable wipes, she uses face washers. Cathy shares her knowledge about how to make these products at workshops for the Organic Society.
Not all of the children’s learning occurs in Cathy’s home; they also benefit from involvement in their local community. Some examples include visiting op-shops and attending local events such as the Highland Gathering and a children’s orchestra.
Riverdale Child Care Centre
When the Little Green Steps program began in Western Australia, Riverdale Child Care Centre in Kelmscott was one of the first early childhood services to be involved. Since then, sustainability has been incorporated into many aspects of the centre’s day to day routines. Food scraps are composted or added to a worm farm. Children understand the need to reduce waste and are in charge of sorting the recycling. Families and community members (even some with no connection to the centre) bring in items to be reused in learning activities. Staff and family’s cultures are explored and included throughout the year.
Water and Energy Audit
Although she hadn’t previously known that sustainability audits were available to early childhood services, centre director Hilary Rimmer was keen to be a part of a Little Green Steps energy and power audit project, supported by the city of Armadale. As part of this a sustainability auditor visited the centre to look at ways Riverdale could reduce their energy and water use.
The audit informed a number of suggestions. One surprising discovery was that the centre did not have any insulation, which explained uneven temperatures throughout the rooms. The centre is now in the process of installing insulation and the staff and children look forward to cooler rooms in summer as well as lower cooling costs.
The auditor recognised that the freezers in the centre were old and used a lot of energy and that it would be worthwhile to replace them with newer, more efficient appliances. This is something that Hilary plans to do soon. Riverdale staff learned to read the water meter to look for patterns in water use. The auditor identified that a small amount of water was being used each night when nobody was at the centre and further investigation showed this to be from a leak in the toilet cisterns, which has since been repaired. A final recommendation was that the solar panels on the roof of the centre would generate more power if nearby trees were trimmed, reducing shade over the panels.
Recently, Riverdale hosted an Air, Energy and Transport workshop for early childhood educators from Armadale and surrounding areas, at which they shared their new strategies for saving energy and water. Hilary says that the audit was very beneficial to Riverdale, saving money and reducing their environmental impact. It has also contributed to their aim of teaching young children about sustainability in the hope that they’ll continue to care for the environment as they grow older.
Clifton Hills Primary School
The last few years at Clifton Hills Primary School in Kelmscott, have seen the completion of many exciting projects that contribute to children’s wellbeing and help them to care for the environment. Much of this work has begun in the Early Childhood Centre, who are keen to spread their sustainability message throughout the school.
Kindergarten and Pre-primary children can often be found snacking on parsley, mint, fruit or vegetables from their gardens, the produce varying with the seasons. Children help with planting vegetables from seed, as well as weeding and watering. Their gardens are open to older children at the school, who love to visit the garden they worked in when they were younger.
Recently, the Early Childhood Centre has been focussing on reducing waste. They are expert re-users and the children in their classes know that many items are not rubbish, but can be used for another purpose. Craft activities, classroom storage and even some playgrounds are made from reused materials. When something can’t be used again within the school, children sort the waste into things that can be composted, added to the worm farm or recycled. This year students from their Year 5 and 6 classes participated in a Waste Audit to see exactly how much lunch waste their school produces each day. As a result Trash Free Tuesday was introduced to provide a further incentive for reducing school waste. The class which has the least waste on this day awarded a certificate made from recycled paper.
With the help of many parents, the school has created a large and busy Naturescape area. The area includes wooden stepping blocks, logs, a rocky river bed, branches to build with, a tree swing, a stage and an outdoor classroom. Another highlight is a tunnel, featuring a Wagyl which was painted by a parent and the students. The Naturescape was cheaper to build than a traditional playground and doesn’t require expensive specialists to make any repairs. Children from Kindergarten to Year 6 race to use the Naturescape during breaks to play, climb, run, build and pretend. Staff have noticed a reduction in conflict between children as they are purposely engaged in play and often solve problems together.
Loose Parts Play.
Crates, cylinders, boxes, tubs, canvas and wheels are some of the items you can find in the school’s Loose Parts collection. Loose parts involve open ended play for all students offering a range of materials, often items that would otherwise be discarded. It provides opportunities for children to work together make decisions, problem solve and invent. Clifton Hills PS students have made rockets, go carts, ball runs and a lolly making machine amongst many other things.
Always after a new challenge, The Early Childhood team and their students are currently building a mud kitchen from reused materials. Other sustainability projects are sure to follow…