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Teaching Children to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

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Teaching Children to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle Junk Bunk

Recycling is an important concept that teaches children to care for the environment. It encourages children to be responsible and show a growing appreciating for Earth.

It is important to identify the three R’s so that children can distinguish three key ways to reduce their impact on the environment:

Reduce: - this means cutting back on the amount of waste used in everyday life. For example, reduce waste by teaching children to use canvas bags at the grocery store instead of plastic bags.

Reuse - reuse an existing item in your service in order to minimize waste. For example, reuse paper for drawing, reuse recyclable materials for craft etc.  

Recycle -  means when an object can be shredded, melted, or processed in order to create new raw materials.  For example, an aluminium can is used to create more cans while paper and cardboard can be recycled in order to generate more paper products.

Teaching Children About Recycling

It's important to support children to be active learners within the environment to ensure they understand why we need to recycle.

Talking about recycling also provides the opportunity for children to learn about where products come from. How they are made. And how they can be reused.

Here are some simple experiences, to start with:

  • Composting - Show children that food waste can be recycled too. Create a compost bin where children’s meal leftovers can be deposited. Make it part of your daily routine to empty scraps into the compost bin and periodically transfer its contents into an outdoor composter. Use this opportunity to teach children about the composting process and how food can be recycled into nutrient-rich soil.
  • Create a Recycling Centre - Using plastic recycling bins or cardboard boxes, create a recycling centre within your room. Get preschoolers involved in labelling, decorating and setting up the recycling bins in the room. As you label each box with plastic, paper, metal and cardboard, explain the types of items that might go in each one. Invite children to start sorting recyclables and continue to sort the items they use every day.
  • Reuse Recycled Materials for Art and Craft Projects - Setup a shelf where recycled materials can be stored. Children can choose what they want to use and create with.

This is also a great opportunity to discuss other ways we can care for the environment by reducing what we use, reusing what we can, and recycling.

Getting Families Involved

Families can also get involved in your services recycling and reuse efforts.

Setup plastic bins for families to drop off their preloved goods such as kids books, children's clothes and toys. You can collect these items and host a book, clothes or toy exchange with the families at your service or you can contact local organisations where these preloved goods can be donated.

This can be an ongoing initiative that your service can be involved in.

Families can also be encouraged to bring in recycled materials that can be used for art projects.

Sustainability Education

Encouraging children to recycle is a way of teaching them about sustainability. Learning the importance of being sustainable shows them that the environment is important.

Including composting, worm farms, gardening and providing a natural environment successfully engages children. However, these are only one of many ways we can teach sustainable development. As educators, we need to include education about and for the environment.

The following article Sustainability Practices in Childcare will provide you with strategies on promoting sustainable education for educators and children and ideas on incorporating sustainable practices within the environment. 

Recycling is an excellent way to teach children about environmental awareness and the importance of respecting their environment.


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Created On November 10, 2023 Last modified on Friday, November 10, 2023
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