Noteworthy Practice - My Green Childcare Booklet
A number of childcare facilities (children under 3 years of age) of the City of Ghent incorporated sustainability and ‘green principles’ in their pedagogical vision and daily practice, engaging children, parents, community and the care team. Each of our childcare centers works from a well-defined, holistic pedagogical vision, focusing on total wellbeing and involvement of children and their environment. The so-called ‘profiled centers’ elaborate a specific aspect of this vision. The “Green childcare centers” look for different ways to bring children in contact with nature and to bring nature into their childcare. To support this, each child gets its own ‘GREEN BOOKLET’: a personalized notebook with a series of ‘green’ activities each child should experience before the age of 3, such as walking barefoot on grass or sand, play with water, dance in the rain, stare at clouds, make mud cakes, smell flowers, watch a bug, help to prepare and eat natural healthy foods… Whenever a child does any of these activities for the first time, it’s indicated in his green booklet, if possible with a picture of the child enjoying this activity and personal notes of the childcare team, such as when did the child do this, how did he experiment, enjoy the activity….
It stimulates the care team to ensure that each child (as an individual and member of the group) is offered a varied scale of green and sustainable experiences. Nature offers a wide range of materials stimulating children’s phantasy, creativity and senses. The goal is that each child does each of the ‘green’ activities at least once before he leaves childcare. The booklet is used as a tool to talk with the team, children and parents about what the kids do, focusing on the green and total development and wellbeing of each child. The practitioners start participation with observing children in a natural environment. Children’s language development is stimulated by telling and sharing the stories of their discoveries. The care team and parents can discuss the child’s development, wellbeing and the integration of green principles in the child’s education. And most of all, the Green booklet is a valued souvenir for children and parents when they say goodbye to the childcare. The green booklet was first designed by Childcare center, De Bubbels, and further developed and implemented by the “Green colleague group”, consisting of the coordinators of all green childcare centers and a pedagogical coach of the City of Ghent. The booklet can be easily adapted to any child and any environment a childcare center works in.