Early years settings can play a key role in promoting the visibility, inclusion, and active participation of young children in society. Opportunities to engage with people, places, and the natural world in the local environment help children, families, educators, and communities build connections, learn and discover, and make contributions to the world around them. It fosters a sense of belonging to the local community, the natural environment, and the larger universe of living things.
As well, communities benefit from the rich experiences they have in learning about, with, and from children. “Programs are most effective if the primary focus stays on supporting the child within his or her family and community. Child, family and community well-being must be equally valued, since they are inextricably linked.”
Educators can reflect on ways to build connections with the local environment by asking, for example:
- What opportunities are available in our community to build connections?
- How can we facilitate stronger relationships within our local community?
- What contributions can we make in caring for the natural environment around us?