Quality Area 3 of the National Quality Standard focuses on the physical environment, assessing that it is safe, suitable and provides a rich and diverse range of experiences that promote children's learning and development, and children becoming environmentally aware and responsible.
Standard 3.3 of the National Quality Standard requires services to take an active role in caring for its environment and contributes to a sustainable future. For a service to be meeting the National Quality Standard element 3.3.1 requires that sustainable practices are embedded in service operations.
Here is a list of useful resources for services wanting to learn more about sustainability:
- NSW Early Childhood Environmental Education Network - ECEEN supports early childhood services in NSW to embed sustainable values, which scaffold environmentally sustainable early education programs, in their service. The network run lots of interesting courses and have a Facebook page and members only site.
- Climbing the Little Green Steps - various resources including a guide for educators on promoting sustainability in your local area developed as part of 'Our environment - it's a living thing'.
- The National Quality Standard Professional Learning Program - this site contains newsletters and useful vignettes on sustainable practices.
- Office of Environment and Heritage - a section of the site is dedicated to sustainability in the early childhood sector, including sustainable education.
- Planet Ark - supports individuals and businesses that want to reduce their day-to-day impact on the environment.
- Australian Association for Environmental Education - the peak professional body for environmental educators. It promotes education to help people live more sustainable lives, provides professional development to the sector and works to strengthen local networks that facilitate collaboration and skill sharing.
The following books on sustainability are also useful to anyone working in the early childhood education and care sector:
Designs for living and learning: Transforming early childhood environments. Curtis, D and Carter, M (2003). Redleaf Press, Minnesota, USA.
Taking early childhood education outdoors. Dau, E (ed.) (2005), Pearson Education, Australia.
Young children and the environment: Early education for sustainability. Davis, J (2010), Cambridge University Press, Australia.
Early childhood environmental education: Making it mainstream. Davis, J and Elliott, S (2003), Early Childhood Australia, Canberra
The outdoor play space naturally: For children birth to five years. Elliott, S (2008) Pademelon Press, NSW.
No fear: Growing up in a risk averse society. Gill, T (2007), Calouste, UK.
Caring spaces, learning places: Children's environments that work. Greenman, J (2005), Exchange Press, Redmond, USA.
Greening services: Practical sustainability Kinsella, R (2007,. Early Childhood Australia, Canberra.
Last child in the woods: Saving children from nature-deficit disorder. Louv, R (2008), Algonquin Books, USA.
True green kids: 100 things you can do to help fix the planet. McKay, K and Bonnin, J (2008), ABC Books, Australia.
ECO OOSH in action: A whole-of-centre approach to sustainable living: A manual for out of school hours (OOSH) centres. Network of Community Activities (2005). South Australia.
Creating rooms of wonder: Valuing and displaying children's work to enhance the learning process. Seefeldt, C (2002), Gryphon House, USA.
Grow it and eat it: Simple gardening projects and delicious recipes. The Royal Horticultural Society (2008), UK.
Beautiful stuff! Learning with found materials. Topal, C and Gandini, L (1999), Sterling, USA.
Early childhood playgrounds: Planning an outside learning environment. Walsh, P (1991), Pademelon Press, NSW