As the welfare of our planet becomes an increasingly pressing issue, nearly all parents are now concerned about the consequences of climate change on their children as they grow older.
According to our own research undertaken ahead of Earth Day – held annually on 22 April to engage support for environmental protection across the globe – almost nine in ten parents of pre-school aged children (88%) are worried about the impact of climate change on their child’s future, with 70% already talking to their children about how important it is to look after the planet.
The research comes as Busy Bees is set to launch its most sustainable centre to date later this month. The new flagship nursery opens in Lichfield, Staffordshire on Wednesday 26 April, where the first Busy Bees was established 40 years ago.
A blueprint for all future Busy Bees nurseries, the market-leading nursery features state-of-the-art eco-technology, including solar panels, ‘living walls’ to increase biodiversity, LED lights with motion sensors and low flow taps as well as EV chargers and bike storage to encourage environmentally friendly travel.
Sarah Robertson, Environmental Manager at Busy Bees, said: “For parents, the world their children will grow up in is a genuine concern and they feel it’s important that they do all they can to ensure good habits are passed down to the next generation as future custodians of the planet.
“The findings from our survey show that over 70% of parents recycle to set a good example for their children, which is really encouraging. However, more than 50% said their children were not yet aware of the reasons why recycling is important, and there are lots of ways to engage them in recycling.
“We hope that through the launch of our latest and most sustainable nursery, which will form the blueprint for future new centres, we can help to educate and inspire the next generation on the importance of taking care of the planet.”
The research also revealed how parents are already teaching their children about recycling, including re-using items in games or crafts (66%), reading books about recycling (24%) or simply showing them how through day-to-day actions (94%).
To mark Earth Day, Busy Bees has shared a range of activities to support children’s understanding of recycling:
According to the research, 93% of parents encourage their children to recycle or reuse empty or finished household items. To help them further understand the importance of recycling, gather a selection of clean recyclable materials and ask your child to group them into categories like cardboard, metal and plastic.
Once the items are sorted, ask them to think of ways they could be used in the future, such as using a cardboard tube as a telescope or creating a collage from pictures in a magazine. This will also encourage them to develop their imagination and critical thinking.
One of the best ways to engage children in learning is to teach them songs with a catchy tune so they can remember and repeat them.
Our research showed that only 6% of parents use this tactic with their children. Busy Bees has a selection of inspiration available on our website, including recycling songs to the tune of classic nursery rhymes like Incy Wincy Spider and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, that also support communication and literacy development.
As well as activities at home, it’s a good idea to make the most of time outdoors as the natural environment can be one of the best ways to demonstrate the importance of caring for our planet.
Next time you’re out at your local park or play area, ask your child to spot some examples of how we can keep spaces tidy such as using litter bins provided or taking your litter home with you or You could even invite them to create a poster encouraging others to do the same.
A quarter of parents (24%) are already using books to teach their children about recycling. Reading is one of the most effective ways to educate children, and books are ideal for introducing new concepts to develop their understanding.
You can find a list of fiction and non-fiction recommendations on the Busy Bees website, covering topics like recycling, caring for animals and looking after our planet.
For more inspiration for recycling activities to try with your children, click here.
*From a poll of 670 parents from the Busy Bees Parent Panel w/c 27.02.23