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Climate change: How early childhood education can help

Climate change: How early childhood education can help

Hands seen above a growing garden including kale.

Untrained eyes may not see the small community garden. Coast and Straits Salish territory — on what passersby commonly know as the University of Victoria campus — might look unruly. Bursting with dandelions, lamb’s ear and grasses, it’s difficult to tell where the garden starts and where it ends.

It is always interesting to see where these boundaries begin and end. fruitful challengeThe garden is now open to children, educators, researchers and other members of the University of Victoria child-care center who work in it.

The group chose to dig in the garden with gusto rather than manage it. They didn’t know what was growing there or how. Those unknowns allowed them to move beyond the idea of a “controlled garden plot.” Instead, they think about what belongs and why, to consider what else they do not know.

These approaches are crucial for the children of this generation and generations to come who inherit an inheritance Ecologically precarious World.

Climate Action Childhood Network

The program includes educators from the University of Victoria, as well as educators from more than 10 early childhood centres that collaborate in five countries (Australian Ecuador, Canada, United States, United Kingdom, and the United States). Climate Action Childhood Network.

As the director, this network is comprised of international interdisciplinary practitioners and researchers. I believe it is important to generate responses to climate change by creating and experimenting alongside young kids. Different early childhood centres offer climate-specific experiences that help children explore topics such as food, energy, weather, and waste.

Young children today face many environmental challenges, including toxicity, destruction, toxicity, drought, pollution and wildfires. However, children are not often consulted or included when making environmental decisions.




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We believe that a A paradigm shiftEarly childhood education can help you make deeper social changes. This shift involves moving away from information-driven learning.
Learning that is situated, speculative, and experimental.

Hands seen above a growing garden including kale.
A Climate Action Childhood Network garden was created by children at a Toronto child-care center.
(Lisa Gagliardi), Author provided (no reuse).

Collaborate and learn from garden inhabitants

It can start with something like the Vancouver Island community garden, which is managed by researchers B. Denise Hodgins & Narda NelsonThat challenges ideas around Management and stewardship. There, the children are learning to collaborate with the community garden’s inhabitants: by planting, digging, fertilizing, watering and responding to the garden’s own actions.

Prior to working with children to cultivate an awareness of Lekwungen food systems — a system of relations that predates settler colonial garden practices on these lands — educators attended Cheryl Bryce leads a Colonial Reality Tour. Bryce is from Songhees Nation, also known as Lekwungen. Dialog was also had between educators With Earl Claxton Jr., a SȾÁ,UTW̱ (Tsawout) W̱SÁNEĆ (Saanich) Elder, ethnobotanist and Knowledge Keeper.

Challenge assumptions

When educators invite children’s speculations, we can tap into other worlds that allow us to imagine alternatives.

“These beans are going to grow so high they will reach the clouds!” one child said on a recent visit to the garden. This beautiful declaration challenges us to question our assumptions.

The Climate Action Childhood Network is a partner with the Common Worlds Research Collective, Early childhood education is seen as a collective practice of “learning with” others. The goal is to move beyond learning “about” the climate crisis to seeing ourselves as part of it.

A stack of cut trees seen behind a mesh fence that is lined with children's drawings.
Our goal is to see ourselves as part of the climate crisis and not just learn about it.
(Narda Nelson), Author provided (no reuse).

One example is Conversations with Rain, a joint project between the Art Gallery of Western Australia researchers Mindy Blaise & Jo Pollitt in Western Australia.

They worked with young children to respond and create a painting. Raining on Kurtal, by Wangkatjunga/Walmajarri artist Ngarralja Tommy May. Children were Invited to think with their own breath. Children began by marking one line for each inhale or exhale. This was done until the page was filled. Then, considering the question “What if raining is writing?” children wrote as fast as rain, without stopping or planning.

Water stories

Another project involved children, educators and researchers exploring creeks in each other’s environments across the planet. A group participated from Criuckshank Park, in Wurundjeri country in Melbourne, Australia — once a grassland, then a bluestone quarry that polluted a creek and now a greenbelt that winds through a gentrifying suburb. Another group was located in Haro Woods, an urban second-growth forest on Canada’s West Coast on the unceded, traditional and ancestral lands of the Coast and Straits Salish peoples, and what is known now as Victoria.

Nicole Land and Catherine Hamm were researchers who worked with children in their creekside settings in Australia, Canada.
FaceTime allows you to discover new ways to connect. Children and educators sat at the creekside to share their creek stories and learn from each other via FaceTime. They listened to the sounds of the water and asked each other: Where does the water go if it runs dry in certain seasons. What stories was this place telling before colonialism?

Children's feet in boots are seen wading in water.
Educators with children listened carefully to the sounds of creeks.
(Fikile Nxumalo), Author provided (no reuse).

“Our water stories are not worried about saving or rescuing The water,” the
Collaborators on the project wrote
. “Rather, they are about what might be required to carefully stay with the troubles made visible with polluted creeks in urban nature spaces.”

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The point of the FaceTime project was not to reinforce the idea of children as “global citizens” who should learn about people and practices in other cultures and places.

It resisted the urge to exchange facts about parklands. Instead, it was concerned with what feminist scholar Donna Haraway described as “Transferring patterns back and forth”. Haraway discusses the children’s string game of cat’s cradle that can be passed (and elaborated) from person to person as a metaphor: When we “hold” each other’s stories and creations, this collective attention opens up new possibilities.

Pandemics

An upright stick that looks like a large hen's leg is seen in front of some brown hens.

A child noticed that a stick looked similar to a leg of a hen walking through the garden.
(Karina Fernandez), Author provided (no reuse).

Our work also addressed the pandemic. Cuenca is home to a project.Ecuadorean school, Xavier, made it possible to experiment with an independent school, despite the difficulties of locking down.

Educators at Santana’s Children’s School with researchers Cristina D. Vintimilla and Veronica Pacini-Ketchabaw created home gardens across the city. The curriculum was created by teachers working with the children three times per week.

One child noticed that a stick looked like a leg of a hen walking through a Cabogana Mountain school. This triggered an exploration of the bird’s movement through imitation and drawings.

The Climate Action Childhood NetworkThis has opened up new avenues for environmental early childhood education. These modes will create the conditions for society’s youngest members, who will be the most impacted by ecological challenges in the long term, to actively participate in transforming the world they are inheriting.

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