The future of the earth rests in the hands of our children, and one of the best things you can do as a socially and environmentally responsible adult is to educate young children about green living and the environment.
For some, this not just a duty but a life calling. If you love working with young children and want to do good in the world, a great green business opportunity for you is starting an eco-friendly preschool.
Green preschools not only help educate children about respecting and tending to the environment, they also help protect children from the many toxic chemicals surrounding them as the result of pollution and unsafe building materials.
Things To Think About When Starting a Green Preschool
There are many issues to consider when designing a green preschool. They include:
- Non-toxic, eco-friendly building materials. Young children are more susceptible than adults to the toxic effects of poor indoor air quality, poisoning by heavy metals such as lead, and other environmental toxins. Building and decorating your preschool with non-toxic, eco-friendly materials such as low-VOC paints, formaldehyde-free flooring, and organic cotton curtains is not only good for the environment, it also protects the health of the children. Eco-friendly cleaning services or products are another important step towards reducing the environmental and health impacts of your green preschool.
- Organic landscaping. Pesticides, fertilizers, and other chemicals used in landscaping can be extremely hazardous to the health of young children. Plan to use organic techniques to care for your outdoor play area and any other landscaping around the preschool. Organic landscaping can also be a great opportunity to educate children about nature and the outdoors. Some preschools encourage their children to help plant and tend for organic vegetable gardens, butterfly gardens, or other gardens.
- Organic food. Young children are also more susceptible to pesticide residues on food, so serving organic meals, preferably locally sourced and sustainable, is another great way to go green while protecting the health of your students. Cooking classes are a fun activity that encourages future self-reliance and can be used to help educate children about nutrition and healthy eating habits.
- Non-toxic, eco-friendly toys. Plastic toys are not only bad for the environment, many also contain substances such as PVC and BPA, which are believed to cause reproductive disorders and other health problems. Choosing non-toxic toys made from sustainable materials is better for the children and the environment. Old fashioned wooden and cloth toys such as blocks and dolls also encourage independent, creative play. Eco-friendly art supplies such as beeswax crayons are another safe, green alternative to petroleum-based products.
Three Green Preschools Nurturing Children and the Environment
FIO360 is an Atlanta, GA based green preschool for children aged 6 weeks to 5 years. FIO360 operates in an eco-friendly building incorporating zero-VOC paints and ceiling tiles, energy-efficient radiant heating, and solar tubes to increase natural lighting. All meals are prepared on-site from locally sourced, hormone-free, organic ingredients. The schools curriculum incorporates elements from Montessori, Reggio, High Scope, and other respected early education philosophies.
Precious Resources Preschool is located in Chagrin Falls, OH, near Cleveland, and offers a unique curriculum for 3 and 4 year olds that places strong emphasis on caring for the planet and ourselves. The preschool building is LEED certified and the grounds include an organic garden the children can help tend. Other cool eco-friendly activities include raising butterflies and tadpoles, “adopting” an endangered species, composting and recycling programs, and more!
Portland, OR based Wild Lilac Preschool is located in two restored homes built in the early 20th century. The curriculum is inspired by Montessori and Reggio philosophies and the preschool provides many hands-on nature activities exploring the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Food is cooked on-site and is organic, vegetarian, and seasonal.