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Permaculture for Ages 0-3  RSS feed

 
William James
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Location: Northern Italy
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So we've been asked to brainstorm some ideas for bringing agriculture, nature, and permaculture into a new pre-school that is forming here.

Any thoughts about what kinds of things you could teach for that age kids?

I'm thinking sensory stuff, building relationships with others, and the like. Not much of a teacher of that age myself.

Thanks,
William
 
Nicole Alderman
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Location: Pacific Northwest
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Here are some threads you might find useful, as there are some good ideas for that age range, though geared more for one-on-one homeschooling.

List of books for toddler/preschool age about nature: http://www.permies.com/t/50433//Favorite-Preschool-Aged-Books-Nature

This one is full of different ways and techniques to teach permaculture to young ones. There's some lesson plan ideas in there, too. http://www.permies.com/t/50429//

If you want, I can write up more lesson ideas in a few hours while my toddler is sleeping (I have an Elementary Teachers Certification and spent 6 years working in a preschool with kids aged 1-5, and now have my own two-year old son).

 
Matt Powers
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I'm of the opinion that you live by example & include them in normal daily routines that exemplify permaculture principles. I also think that the best place for a child 0-3 is with their parents & not in a classroom & for them to not have a curriculum beyond immersion in normal daily life of families. This normalcy and rhythm is what all our ancestors lived until age 7 or 8 when they began to be a larger part of working with the family. It is an ancient pattern and epigenetically rooted further than the more recent attacks on family. Evidence is mounting that preschooling is negative as well:

“If anything, preschool may do lasting damage to many children”
http://blogs.wsj.com/juggle/2008/08/25/preschool-helpful-harmful-or-simply-not-worth-it/

The best thing to do is build a food forest, set the kids free in it & just garden & do normal permie things include all family members of each family including extended families for free & have no curriculum other than what you are doing. Let the kids roam free without any structure just enriching habitat. It's the only way to ethically do it.

my 2 cents,

MP
 
Nicole Alderman
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Matt Powers wrote:I'm of the opinion that you live by example & include them in normal daily routines that exemplify permaculture principles. I also think that the best place for a child 0-3 is with their parents & not in a classroom & for them to not have a curriculum beyond immersion in normal daily life of families. This normalcy and rhythm is what all our ancestors lived until age 7 or 8 when they began to be a larger part of working with the family. It is an ancient pattern and epigenetically rooted further than the more recent attacks on family. Evidence is mounting that preschooling is negative as well:

“If anything, preschool may do lasting damage to many children”
http://blogs.wsj.com/juggle/2008/08/25/preschool-helpful-harmful-or-simply-not-worth-it/


I totally agree (my former co-workers and the parents whose children I cared for were always confused as to why I wouldn't be returning to work after I had my son, and why I wouldn't be putting him in daycare). But, the fact of the matter is, there are children in daycare, for whatever reasons their parents have. So, I think it's important to do the best we can for those children if they are entrusted into our care. Sometimes we have to do the best we can in the situations we are in (for instance, I worked in a very conventional preschool and had to work around and with the system to make it as natural as possible for the kids).
 
Phoenix Blackdove
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How formal is the preschool planning on with lesson plans and such? Kids 0-3 need a lot of unstructured time to just muck about and do things on their own in a reasonably safe environment, maybe with a bit of redirection from the more dangerous things ("no, let's not push Sally's head in the water" kind of stuff).

Sensory stuff, all the way. Heaps of positive benefits for kids at that age. If there's much scope for building a natural classroom, that's a plus too. Most kids love the chance to play outside on big rocks and logs and trees and such. It's heaps good for them too.

Water play is also hugely popular, especially if there's things you can put in the water. Not just "proper" water toys either - scoops, buckets, stones, sticks, anything really. It all gets thrown in the water and experimented with.

Relationship building in the 3-and-under crowd is really more about modelling the behaviours you want them to learn, more than anything. Sportscasting and letting them work through conflict before jumping in to sort it out is also useful. Maybe social stories at reading time? I'm not a very inter-personal human so I'm a bit stuck for suggestions here.

Though I wouldn't worry too much about it anyway since most kids are still involved in parallel play up to five or six years of age, or even beyond. So most relational things are just learning to work through the emotions around sharing/not sharing of communal resources.

Most young kids also like to help out in the garden, though enthusiasm often outstrips ability. Watering things and planting seeds are the top two activities here with the resident three-year-old. So things like getting each kid to plant up a pot of something fast-growing (eg radishes, mustard, cress) and watching how they grow works a treat. So does chia pet type things.

Raised beds can help contain the bedlam if you're planning on doing much patch tending with them. Expect great delight and diversions from things such as caterpillars, butterflies, earthworms and so on.

Speaking of earthworms, kids seem to really like worm farms. Tons of learning right there.

But as Matt said, a lot of the learning at that age is best viewed as an informal thing. They'll soak up anything you present them with, especially if it's fun.

Caveat: I'm not a teacher, just a parent of a child that age who hangs around with a lot of other like-minded parents of kids that age.
 
Harmony Hunden
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As a stay at home homeschooling mom I feel it is truly sad that children so young have to be separated from their parents. That said I have also worked in a preschool in the past. Perhaps the original poster is looking more for guidelines and curriculum for the instructors to follow to create a seemingly unstructured environment to introduce gardening to children who would otherwise not be exposed to it.... All I can recommend is just dig in! There are many websites devoted to kids gardening as well as school gardens. I know little kids love being able to harvest and eat what they have grown and I think it is a great idea to introduce gardening even if it is not permaculture into a childs environment.
Rather than hiring a landscaper to make the school yard pleasant perhaps hire a permaculture designer to sign a food forest and a few keyline or hugely ultra beds for annuals. Then have the teachers and students do all the gardening from sprouting seeds indoors to digging holes as a group to place the inner trees of guilds. I think the biggest focus should be safety and pacing. If the school intends to introduce permaculture of the years perhaps only set up one guild per year. I for one would love to work at such a facility as it encompasses my two passions, my children and my gardening...
 
Nicole Alderman
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You could also have the kids "help" make the beds. My two year old son "helped" put twigs on my hugel and shovel dirt into the wheelbarrow and on the mound. Of course, most of the time he wasn't actually doing what he was "supposed" to. He was poking the mound with the stick to watch dirt roll down, he was throwing the dirt in the air to see where it was going, he was driving his car in it, he was plucking out rocks. But, these were all really good things for him to learn from, too! He learned about physics, hand-eye coordination, properties of soil and sticks, how much pressure it take to break a stick, the weight of rocks, how to hold a shovel, etc. etc. etc.

Kid learn a lot by seeing a project go from start to finish, too. They learn cause and effect, how to build things, how to help, patience, how to work together, how big things can be made through repeated small actions, etc. These are really valuable things to learn, especially when one is little and often frustrated by not being able to quickly do the thing they want.
 
Chris Badgett
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I'm with Matt. Leading by example is key.

Our daughters have spent a lot of time in the garden while we're in there. Slowly they learn to help. But most importantly they're connecting with the plants, chickens, and natural systems.

If you're in a traditional setting, maybe start with some permaculture property designs for coloring and explain what the lines mean in simple terms.
 
Jessie Twinn
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Location: Central Highlands, Victoria Australia
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Expect great delight and diversions from things such as caterpillars, butterflies, earthworms and so on.


Use this to your benefit I say! I "paid" my children (aged 5, 4 and 2) in sultanas to pick all the big fat cabbage moth grubs off my brassicas and feed them to the hens. A sultana for a grub picked and presented. Even I was amazed how many they found. A little motivation (ie bribery) goes a long way!

I even paid my nephew once to collect the earthworms from under a path of pavers I'd been moving, either to add to the compost heap or feed to the hens - 10c per worm. That experience cost me over $12! Sultanas are the way to pay I say!
 
Ghislaine de Lessines
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My mom used to pay us a penny per potato beetle we crushed. She never was interested in chickens unfortunately. We have discussed bringing my ducks over to eat slugs though!

I had some radishes self seed amongst some elderberry cuttings I had rooted. When my kids asked about them or said they were hungry while we were in that area, I showed them how to pick them and eat them.

It really is about getting out there and taking advantage of what interests them. Nature walks would be awesome, pointing out the wild grapevine climbing up that foodsource tree, etc.
 
nataly marchuk
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I love this topic! And all the stories and suggestions! To add couple of cents:
Somebody mentioned books, but I feel that stories are more appropriate for this age. You can make up a story per day from what is going on in your garden: About a tiny caterpillar growing all the way into a butterfly or a bird making a nest on your tree...
Also, I am big fan of celebrating seasons! If you happen to know children's seasonal songs and finger games - that's awesome, if not - may be YouTube? Waldorf education has tons of useful information and ideas.
And a seasonal gathering like summer solstice where all those songs and games are played, seasonal food and activities like dances or bonfire are organized. You don't even have to have big group of people for that, just couple of likeminded families. Just do it every year and it will be great importance for children (and adults)!
And lastly, I agree with those who said that for this age being at home with parents is the best, but one thing is when children have to be in some sort of place away from home and we want it to be the best possible alternative and i am praising adults who not only open their homes and hearts for other children, but bring more to that experience, meaning helping them to become more ecologically sensitive. And another thing: Some parents would appreciate parent support groups, where they can come to somebody's food forest and give their children opportunity to play with dirt and pick tomatoes while they happily socialize. That is what I do - opening my back yard twice a week to parents with toddlers from my community.
Happy summer!
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