In a special ceremony, held in Bar-Ilan University earlier this month, some 48 green kindergartens located in the Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, central and southern districts of Israel were certified “green.”
An additional 34 kindergartens were certified earlier in the month, on December 3 in Haifa, 8 of which came from the Arab sector, reports the Ministry of Environmental Protection website. This is good news to our ears.
In all, 82 Israeli green kindergartens were certified in 2008, compared to 32 in 2007. But what does it take to make Israeli tots green? Do the ganenets feed them organic food? Do they learn about recycling? Maybe they plant trees?
In order to be officially certified, kindergartens must demonstrate their achievements in three areas:
- Environmental curriculum
- Rational use of resources
- Contribution to the community
According to the Ministry, kindergartens have a critical role to play in setting the educational infrastructure or basis for the understanding of basic concepts at the personal and social levels. “Cultivating environmental literacy in the kindergarten is of major importance since it is at this early age that we can try to instill positive attitudes toward the human and physical environment, in the present and in the future,” they write.
Accreditation of Green Kindergartens Come With $ Incentive
The aim of the “Green Kindergarten” program is to lead kindergartens through an educational process in which the children, kindergarten teachers, assistants and parents take part in incorporating environmental subjects into the kindergarten.
The accreditation process for Green Kindergartens was initiated in 2006 by the Ministry of Environmental Protection in cooperation with the Ministry of Education. Coming along with a cash incentive, going green can also boost enrollment (it’s a new thing moms and dads can brag about at the park). In Israel it seems that most kindergartens are privatized. So the added marketability of teaching tots to go green can be a selling point.
Recycling Corner in a Petach Tikva kindergarten
Making the green grade, a kindergarden teacher must prepare:
- An annual work plan on environmental subjects: it should relate to at least three of the following subjects: waste treatment, noise, water, animals, cleanliness of public places, green consumption, environmental planning, hazardous substances, nature protection, proper nutrition, and disease prevention.
- Community-oriented environmental projects: activities aimed at raising awareness and changing behavioral norms in environmental realms. Examples may include: adopt-a-site, information activities on the environment, treatment of environmental problems in the jurisdiction of the local authority, organization of environmental events such as green days, environmental happenings, etc.
- Behavioral expression of environmental literacy in the kindergarten’s life: activities meant to conserve natural resources and reduce environmental pollution in at least one of the following areas : noise (e.g., improving the culture of speaking — I like this one), waste (e.g., reuse of waste, collection of waste including batteries, bottles, plastic bags for recycling), ecological garden (e.g., with water saving plants, wise irrigation, fertilization using compost), treatment of problems relevant to the community (e.g., by contacting the local authority, etc.), activities aimed at cultivating and caring for the natural environment around the kindergarten (e.g., planting wildflowers), sustainability (e.g., promoting biodiversity through feeding stations and nesting sites for birds), electricity savings (e.g., curtains for shade) and green consumption (e.g., purchase of environment-friendly products such as non-disposable dishes for birthday parties).
Spice garden in used tires in Sakhnin kindergarten
Only those kindergartens that formulate and implement these three prerequisites will be eligible for consideration by the steering committee, composed of representatives of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, Ministry of Education and local authorities.
Accredited kindergartens are awarded a monetary grant and are invited to a festive ceremony in which the certificates are granted.
In 2007, 32 Green Kindergartens from all over Israel were accredited, including two clusters composed of 15 kindergartens. A kindergarten cluster is a group of kindergartens, each with a different teacher, which share a common structure and common resources, and often work together in line with a common educational approach.
Want to send your baby to a green kindergarden? A complete list of those that made the grade is available here (it’s in Hebrew).