In the face of mounting climate challenges, environmental sustainability has become an urgent priority globally. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) and the European Union's Green Deal have placed great emphasis on the role of education in fostering sustainable practices. However, research indicates that Environmental Sustainability (ES) is often implicitly addressed in preschool curricula, with limited focus on the active participation of children as catalysts for change and global citizens. Additionally, there is a lack of pedagogical resources tailored to the needs of Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) students. To address these gaps and cultivate a generation of environmentally-conscious citizens, the GreenGUARDens project endeavors to integrate both Environmental Sustainability (ES) and Green Entrepreneurship (GE) in kindergartens through innovative training and experiential learning.
The GreenGUARDens project has three overarching goals:
1. Cultivate an Understanding of Environmental Sustainability: By incorporating ES&GE education in kindergarten curricula, the project aims to foster the development of environmentally-conscious young citizens. Teachers play a crucial role as role-models, demonstrating greener behaviors to their students through formal education that utilizes experiential and gamified learning.
2. Promote the Democratisation of Climate Action: GreenGUARDens recognizes the importance of including all children, including DHH students, in the process of addressing environmental sustainability. By promoting social inclusion and awareness, the project seeks to engage children as active participants in societal matters.
3. Approach Kindergartens as Green Enterprises: The project advocates viewing kindergartens not merely as educational institutions but also as enterprises with a corporate social responsibility to practice environmental sustainability. This approach encourages sustainable practices within the school environment and facilitates the integration of ES&GE in all aspects of education.
The first step of creation of this project involves comprehensive research to identify gaps, best practices, and relevant resources in the fields of ES&GE in kindergartens. At least 10 interviews with teachers, Ministry of Education officers, and inclusion experts, along with the collection of 60 resources on preschool ES and GE curricula, form the foundation for the project's future actions.
The following phase aims to raise awareness among kindergarten teachers about the significance of ES&GE and provide them with the necessary theoretical and practical tools to effectively integrate these concepts into their classrooms. The creation of a Virtual Learning Environment (VLL) consisting of theoretical modules and micro-challenges ensures high-quality training for teachers, enhancing their capacity to impact students positively.
During the last stage, teachers are encouraged to implement inclusive pedagogical sequences and gamified activities in their classrooms. These activities promote experiential learning for students, with a particular focus on DHH students. The project also provides Open Educational Resources (OERs) to support teachers in integrating ES&GE effectively.
The consortium hopes that the GreenGUARDens project stands as a beacon of hope for environmental sustainability and green entrepreneurship in kindergartens. By fostering an understanding of ES&GE among teachers and students, promoting inclusive practices, and viewing kindergartens as green enterprises, the project strives to create a generation of environmentally-conscious citizens equipped to tackle the pressing climate challenges of our time. Through collaborative efforts and innovative pedagogical approaches, GreenGUARDens paves the way for a more sustainable and greener future.