Promoting Sustainability Together with Parents in Early Childhood Education

Anna Pilvi Elisa Sihvonen, Riikka Lappalainen, Jaana Herranen, Maija Aksela

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


This multimethod study investigated an environmental recycling project in a Finnish kindergarten group, tailored for children aged 4 to 6, as part of early childhood environmental education for sustainable development. We aimed to identify the main drivers of sustainable lifestyles in the families of kindergarten children and evaluate the project’s effective practices. We utilized a qualitative approach using interviews with parents and feedback from teachers and employed the Following a Thread approach alongside inductive thematic analysis. The results highlight the crucial role of Finland’s socio-cultural context, including the emphasis on free play in natural settings and the encouragement of exploration under gentle guidance, in fostering sustainable behaviors among children. Additionally, the parents’ strong environmental sensitivity was manifested in their will to engage with their surrounding community to promote sustainability. The results underscore the importance of collaboration between parents and educators in promoting environmental awareness from an early age. The study advocates for policy changes to ensure that children and teachers have access to natural environments during day care, suggesting that integrating free play in nature with hands-on recycling activities can significantly contribute to sustainable education. Moreover, this topic should be further investigated in different living environments.
Original languageEnglish
Article number541
JournalEducation Sciences
Issue number5
Number of pages28
Publication statusPublished - 16 May 2024
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 1172 Environmental sciences
  • 516 Educational sciences

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