Get some tips on guiding your little ones to care more about the planet – and each other – from Lucy Bruce. She and co-owner Beverly Jatwani have two Jumeirah locations of their Home Grown Nursery and are working on a third. Their ethos? Eco-friendly, sustainable and socially responsible childcare.
How do you teach sustainability, social awareness and environmentalism with students that are so young?
One of our mindfulness activities is what we call a body scan, we ask the children to lie down and we start by getting them to focus on their toes on to their ankle up to their knees, through their legs, into their pelvis, stomach, chest and at each point we ask them to see, are there any physical feelings or emotional feelings that are developing from those areas. We normally ask the children how they are feeling, and if anyone is feeling sad or angry then we can talk about it as a group. Normally there is lots of hugging involved and lots of love.
Do you think approaching children at such an early stage will leave a lasting impression?
We have had parents come in and tell us that their children have asked to see the manager at Ikea over the weekend and told them off for using far too many lights. We have had parents that have come in and said that now because of my child we have to do recycling at the house… We have had families whose children are now asking to adopt endangered animals so that we can take care of animals not just in our local community but all over the world.
Tell us something about Harmony House
It is in Gurgaon just outside of Delhi. We have 500 slum children. So, every child at the nursery gets paired with one of our children in India. With the fees that they pay here, a portion of it goes then to pay for that child’s education in Harmony House. The children Skype one another, which is really lovely to see, they send pictures back and forth and again that is woven into the curriculum.
Can you tell us about the sensory garden?
We have a music segment of the garden where children can play outdoor music instruments. We have a vegetable patch where every child gets the opportunity to grow vegetables and fruit and watch and observe how they grow. If they have any leftover lunch, it all goes to the Bokashi bin, which is basically a compost bin where we make our own compost. Growing plants is a really important part of the curriculum, we have certain times during the week timetabled in where our children have to cultivate plants and if it is in the summer months, we do it indoors.
What is special about your playgrounds?
In the winter it is beautiful to see the children be able to roam freely in the garden, sometimes it is completely free play. Because we don’t have a lot of plastic swings and toys outside, you can see how the children engage with nature, which is beautiful to witness. To see the connection they have with the earth and all things natural is beautiful, and the opportunities in Dubai can be limited, so I think that is another reason why parents enjoy sending their children here.
To learn more about the schools, visit homegrownnursery.ae