How can early childhood education play a vital role in fixing India’s biggest sustainability and climate change issues?

naman jain

As we achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a country, involving our children in this pursuit is critical. The earlier we start sensitising them about their environment, the more responsible they become. And what’s better than integrating sustainability into early childhood education (ECE)? It could help nurture a generation that inherently practices sustainable living.

Early childhood, defined as the period from birth to eight years, is scientifically the most formative years in a child’s life. A child develops foundational cognitive, behavioural, and social skills during these years. It is also when a child becomes aware of their surroundings and learns to adapt to the environment. Introducing sustainability principles at this stage of development can foster environmentally conscious behaviour that becomes a way of life for the child.

Connecting environment concerns via engaging methods like storytelling, songs, and playful activities

We can effectively integrate sustainability into early education by introducing environmental science through simple, relatable concepts such as how to recycle used products, why to use water judiciously, and the importance of clean energy. The earlier they understand how the human quality of life depends on the environment and how the harmonious coexistence of plants and animals is critical to a healthy life, the better it is. This can be achieved through engaging methods like storytelling, songs, and playful activities that capture the imagination and curiosity of young learners. 

Infusing Sustainability in School’s DNA

Schools must reflect their teachings by practising sustainability on their campuses. For example, schools can adopt rainwater harvesting, solar energy, and zero-waste policies. Using environmentally friendly, sustainable materials in the classrooms and on the school premises protects children from harmful substances and teaches them how to practice sustainability. 

Experiential learning in the lap of nature and the environment

Extending learning beyond the classrooms and engaging children in gardening, planting trees, collecting and disposing of garbage, and making the best out of waste helps children understand and respect nature. Such hands-on learning experiences instil practical environmental skills in children. 

Nurturing Sustainable teaching pedagogies and teachers of tomorrow

Effective teacher training is also important in equipping educators with the necessary knowledge and tools to integrate sustainability into their teaching in an engaging and age-appropriate way. Besides, we must develop innovative environmental education curricula, pedagogy, and lesson plans to ensure consistency in the delivery of sustainability education.

Also Read: IIT Kanpur launches new online master’s degree programs in finance and sustainability

Need for Communities to Set Right Examples!

The community and parents’ engagement and involvement are equally important as they help reinforce lessons learned at school and promote a sustainable lifestyle at home. We can engage them by organising cleaning drives, eco-walks, and environment-friendly projects.

Undoubtedly, this is an ambitious plan, and this integration is easier said than done. Ensuring that sustainability education is culturally relevant and accessible to children across the country, irrespective of their backgrounds, requires a lot of planning and resources. Hence, robust policy support from state and Union governments is needed the most.

Schools, teachers, educationists, and policymakers must collaborate to create an ecosystem supporting children’s sustainable development. By embedding sustainability into early education, we will prepare our children for a better future and contribute greatly to saving the planet.

Views Expressed By: Mr Naman Jain, Director, Silverline Prestige School, Ghaziabad

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