Big topics for little people

Who bakes my breakfast roll? Do all children go to kindergarten? How can one know that one is doing the right thing? What is fair?

On our path towards a fairer, healthier and more environmentally friendly world, we need answers to the questions children ask. Thinking and acting sustainably can be learnt, and education and care centres for young children are the ideal place for them to learn because early childhood educators are there to offer help and support.

Education for sustainable development

The idea of education for sustainable development (ESD) [Bildung für Nachhaltige Entwicklung, BNE] provides early childhood professionals with the opportunity to make these topics accessible to children and to empower them to think sustainably and to act responsibly.

The sustainability goals of the United Nations

Sustainable development is one of the major challenges for achieving a society that has long-term viability.

The key topics are climate and climate change, mobility and transport, water, energy, food and agriculture, health, justice between generations, genders and cultures, cultural diversity and participation, and they play a significant role.

To meet these challenges, the United Nations have identified 17 sustainability goals, which serve as guidelines for the actions of organisations, companies and societies.

How does sustainable education in nurseries, kindergartens and after-school care centres work?

In education and care centres for young children, children are given the time and space to pay attention to nature and our environment. The early childhood professionals support children in their efforts to develop as human beings who exercise care and consideration in their dealings with nature.

Children become involved and experience the effectiveness of their actions; they also experience what community, solidarity and diversity mean. They learn to assume responsibility, to work together to find solutions, and they find the courage to change things too.

Together with other children, they learn to explore complicated matters in detail. They are encouraged to be inquisitive about what other people think. Early childhood professionals talk with the children about issues that concern them. They explore with them through play what the world is about and how everything relates to everything else.

The learning formats and projects used in this process are very varied and allow a great amount of room for creativity for both educators and children.