Educating for Sustainability in ECE

One issue that emerges in research is that teachers are not adequately prepared on the topic of addressing Sustainability in their classroom curriculum and there has been wide agreement on the importance of including the topic of Educating for Sustainability into the Teacher Education Curriculum.

I discussed this with my graduate students and we agreed that it is easy to infuse this topic into all our teacher education courses. We also agreed that it is never too early to begin addressing issues around conserving and caring for our environment in PreK-12 schools even with young children.

We decided to compile a panel presentation on the theme of Educating for Sustainability. Participating on this panel are my graduate students most of whom are early childhood teachers in New York City schools and day care centers, and reflect a wide range of cultural, racial, ethnic, religious, and linguistic diversities as do the children they teach.

The course that they are taking with me is Social Studies in the Early Childhood Classroom. The New York State Pre-K Learning Standards for the Social Studies touches upon its 4 pillars: Geography, History, Economics, and Civics & Citizenship. Under each of these headings are sub-themes that include:

Geography: Our Earth and our Environment, Land and water,  Location and Mapping, How people, products and ideas travel between places, How people and environment interact with each other, Conserving and caring for our environment,

History: Change over time, Continuity of human life, Learning about the past

Civics & Citizenship: Participating responsibly in the welfare of the group, Democratic living, Being empathetic, Being socially responsible & considerate of shared space

Economics: Production and Consumption, Scarcity of Resources, Needs & Wants, Interdependence of people and communities

These standards are seen to be closely aligned with the values of Sustainability, Environmental Awareness and Climate Change. And all of these standards can be addressed in very age-appropriate ways in the early childhood curriculum.

Here is the video recording of my students presenting their ideas on how this can be done by giving examples of learning experiences that they have designed for their own early childhood classrooms.