Teaching children to care about the environment is not only a way for us to create positive change for generations to come, but it is also a great way to raise a generation who are compassionate and caring. Giving children an understanding of, appreciation for, and responsibility to their environment is at the heart of the philosophy of Kindergartens Waikato and Early Education Waikato. In their 37 centres and home-based education services, respecting the environment forms a core part of the day to day activities of the children. CEO Maree Stewart says, “It manifests itself in how we care physically, socially and respectfully for everything around us, including each other, every day.”
All 37 services have worm farms, fruit-bearing citrus trees and ‘edible gardens’ where fresh vegetables are grown year-round. These are tended by the children, who eat the produce with whānau throughout the year, including Matariki celebrations.
Each Early Education Waikato Centre employs an in-house cook who incorporates the food grown on-site to create healthy, nutritious meals. Seeing, growing and eating food fresh from the garden helps children to foster better food choices, connects them with food and where it comes from, teaches them about seasons and Mother Nature while also giving them a sense of pride and achievement.