At Melbourne Girls Grammar, we’ve always taken the time to listen to the voice of our students, to empower them to stand up for what they believe in and foster the confidence to fight for what’s important. The environment is such a crucial element to our Grammarians’ education, right from the Early Learning Centre to the Senior Years, the role of the world outside our own is one that allows us to wonder and observe in awe.
Our youngest Grammarians in the Barbara Tolson Early Learning Centre are some of our most sustainable students, as they explore what they can change both at school and at home, they teach all of us a thing or two about how to take care of our planet. Every girl’s innate curiosity about the natural world is fostered as we promote ways they can protect living things. With the School’s close proximity to the Royal Botanic Gardens, incursions by the Melbourne Park Rangers and a variety of gardening projects, a deep connection with nature is formed as well as a love for all flora and fauna.
As Principal Dr Toni Meath said, “Learning in the early years of a child’s life sets the foundations of conceptual understandings. When we introduce the importance of environment and sustainability into this learning we enable wonder and interest of the environment.”
In our learning studios, sustainable practices such as composting and worm farms, water and power saving measures and recycling are embedded into our daily activities. Students are encouraged to problem solve ways they can actively make a difference in protecting their immediate and greater environment. Lessons with purpose that prompt action are always exciting, and it’s even better when our students take it upon themselves to investigate and discover new ways to support their environment.
The ELC and Junior Years students worked together on our sustainable cubby house project. Together they raised funds for the installation of solar panels on the roof to power fairy lights and speakers for the cubby. To raise the funds, the Green Team introduced a pop up Farmers Market where they sold rosemary oil and lavender sachets. The cubby house is not just fun for imaginative play, it now also ignites curiosity and sparks wonder while helping to teach our students about sustainable energy.
Last year, our Wilmot girls researched the amount of waste that accompanied the introduction of lunch orders into the ELC. Aghast at the amount of landfill rubbish created that could not be recycled, the girls collaborated with the catering company and reduced the amount of packaging used for each lunch order and ceased the use of disposable cutlery.
As Chloe commented “Our worms cannot eat paper (bleached paper) because it has chemicals in it, but we can recycle it. Cellophane takes a long, long time to be earth again”.
This year, environmental concerns arising from the bushfires inspired our Mitchell girls to explore ecosystems. As Evie commented, “The bushfires burnt the ecosystem and the fire hurt the animals and plants. After the bushfires, if we plant lots of gum trees, it helps the koalas because they need leaves to eat. If there is lots of rain and sunshine it helps the reeds in the river, it helps the moss on the rocks to grow which is where the bugs live!”
After exploring a variety of ecosystems Sabella pointed out, “In a river ecosystem there are frogs, snakes, rocks, water, reeds, and insects. It’s important to learn about the rivers because they teach us good things about keeping the water safe and clean.”
As the need for greater care of our planet becomes more apparent on a global scale, so does the importance of embedding sustainable practices in early childhood education. Our educators are passionately committed to providing the girls with experiences that enable them learn and adopt a proactive attitude towards protecting their natural world. With the environment as the third teacher, true to the Reggio Emilia philosophy, we believe our Grammarians will learn the foundations for becoming environmentally responsible adults in the future.