As a parent, there are so many things that we are responsible for teaching our children. We help teach them to communicate, to have compassion for others, to work hard to accomplish their goals, and how to care for themselves. Equally important is teaching them to care for this planet and our environment. We only have one planet and we all need to work together to make changes and preserve what we have for our future generations.
For me as a parent, it is important for me that my daughter learns about nature, recycling, where our food comes from, where water comes from, minimizing our footprint, and caring for all creatures, big and small.
“As a child, one has that magical capacity to move among the many eras of the earth; to see the land as an animal does; to experience the sky from the perspective of a flower or a bee; to feel the earth quiver and breathe beneath us; to know a hundred different smells of mud and listen unselfconsciously to the soughing of the trees.” -Valerie Andrews, A Passion for this Earth
Even if you don’t have children of your own, maybe you have nieces, nephews, grandkids, or friends with kids that you can help teach and lead. All children are different which means they learn in different ways. I think the key with kids is to make it exciting and tailor to their individual interests. I have outlined a few ways to start below.
- Get kids outside at an early age and let them get a little dirty! Take your kids to parks, camping, on a walk through the woods, to a field of wildflowers, or on a nice beach stroll. These outings help them to appreciate the beauty and wonder of what is around them. You would be amazed by how quickly kids can find something in nature to entertain themselves. As an extra bonus, this can lead to more bonding time with you and gets them to use their minds to be creative without toys and tv.
- Read books or buy a nature journal. Last year, Lisa gave my daughter this journal, Hello Nature by Nina Chakrabarti.
It is a nature book, broken down by season, that is filled with activities and interesting facts. My daughter has loved drawing and learning from this book. There are even instructions on how to grow sprouts, avocado trees, and making leaf prints.
- Get your kids involved at home. I truly believe children often learn better when they are involved. Have you ever heard a little one ask “Can I help?” Sometimes it seems easier to just do it yourself, but taking advantage of them wanting to help at an early age, not only fosters a sense of independence, but helps teach them about why we do certain things, like recycle. It also encourages them to do their part for their family. Whether it is helping to recycle, turning off lights when nobody is the room, or shutting off water while brushing teeth, kids can learn great green habits, even at an early age!
- Plant a garden together and start composting. Planting a garden is a great activity for kids. It shows them how fun it can be to get your hands dirty and feel a sense of pride as their plants grow. Even if you don’t have room for a large garden, planting in containers work just as well. Composting is a great way to show kids that food scraps aren’t garbage and can be used to provide amazing nutrients to the soil.
- Create art from nature. Encourage kids to collect nature items to create a work of art. Allow them to use their imagination to create sculptures out of nature items, use a branch or flowers as a paint brush, or make nature imprints on clay or paper.
- Get involved in the community. Look for opportunities in your community to get your children involved in. Many parks, nature centers, and gardens offer programs tailored to kids. Now is the time to look, as outdoor summer camps are being advertised. You could even organize a neighborhood clean up. Let kids race in teams to pick up the most trash and have a fun picnic afterwards to celebrate all their hard work!
When you make it fun to be out in nature, it will help facilitate that love and respect for our environment for the future! Do you have any other fun ideas of how to facilitate a love of the environment for our children? Please share them below in the comments!
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