The Children’s Garden Preschool was the first preschool in southeast Atlanta to BE Green! From our earliest days, the school has been dedicated to practices integral to environmental stewardship and sustainability. Our school community strives to co-exist in a profoundly felt, committed relationship with the Earth, helping to cultivate inner habits that prepare children to be environmentalists on the deepest levels. Our practices and experiences are embedded in all aspects of school life. Environmental sustainability lives and breathes through our holistic curriculum. Here, we share some of those elements with you.
Daily experiences of colorful nature stories and fairy tales paint a rich tapestry for the young child, encouraging a sense of wonder and close relationship to nature, her elements, and inhabitants. These stories, along with songs and verses in our daily circle time and throughout the rhythm of the day, follow the seasons and come to life in the children’s imaginations.
Children in our school make daily connections to the environment around them with their other senses as well. They find their way to an intimate link to the natural world through plenty of time spent in the outdoors on our play yard and garden, as well as in the woods and fields of our beloved Grant Park. Day by day, these opportunities bring them to an appreciation for the seasons, and for the mineral, plant and animal kingdoms, guided by their own experiences.
Inside the classroom, a myriad of artistic experiences envelope a love and knowledge of the earth’s gifts – water color painting (our paint is all mineral derived and fully biodegradable), 100% natural materials for play including cotton, silk and wood, beeswax crayons for coloring, wool yarn finger crochet and sewing. These activities encourage the children’s awe and respect for Mother Earth. For surface cleaning and daily work, aromatic essential oils form the base of our own table and surface cleaner (such as tea tree, which offers a wonderful, safe anti-septic oil); soothing lavender and vegetable-glycerin soap washes our hands. When we visit the bathroom, each child finds a cloth hand-towel hanging on a line, right under their familiar symbol or colored name tag. This too, allows full autonomy to dry hands and move on to the next part of the day.
Lunch and daily snack connect social ritual with modeled sustainability in such a natural way. Daily snacks are seasonal, communal and made of organic ingredients, with every member of the class contributing to the making of their creation (IE: oatmeal with maple syrup, vegetable soup, fresh apple sauce, fresh spelt bread). In the summer, edibles from the play yard garden produce fruit salads, vegetables for dipping in our homemade hummus and more. Lunches come from home in reusable stainless steel or plastic containers with emphasis on whole food for nourishment and clear water for drinking. Just as real-life at home experience shows children, actual dishes, glasses, terry hand towels and cloth napkins, pots, pans and flatware being used in all class food preparation and serving reduces the eco-impact on our Earth.
After we leave to go home for the day, our school is professionally cleaned by Green Umbrella Cleaning Company, using only environmentally safe products to keep our school beautifully clean and properly maintained.