I’m a treehugger at heart and I’ve been doing my best to educate my children about the Earth, so I was shocked when my 7-year-old said once, ‘What we need to survive is shops’. It shows how easy it is for a city child to believe that food is something that comes out of a plastic packet, even if that child has grown his own tomatoes and strawberries on the balcony. It takes a lot of effort to teach kids about the world and how everything we do affects it in a negative or positive way, but it’s an important job that we have to do as parents and we can’t ignore. So how do we raise Earth-friendly kids?
Spend time outdoors
Not only your children will be healthier and more active, they’ll develop understanding and appreciation of the natural world. Their own interaction with nature can become a mini-model to understand how our society works. They’ll discover how an object from nature can be used in a variety of ways. For example, a stick can be a tool, building material, something to write with or a weapon. Depending on where you take that stick from and how you use it, it can be have minimal impact or it can be harmful.
There are numerous books and films out there, for any age or reading level that teach kids about the seasons, wildlife, pollution, recycling, where water comes from and what we can do to protect the environment. Our family’s favourite is Dr Seuss’ book ‘The Lorax’ and the movie based on that book. Use books and films as teaching tools, but also look out for opportunities in daily life to start a conversation.
Model green living
Your children will learn from your own efforts to preserve the environment. Do what you can to reduce your impact and talk to your kids why you’re doing it. Some easy practices that many of us do without even thinking about it are recycling, conserving water and energy at home, carrying our own reusable water bottles, accepting second-hand gifts and donating items we no longer need instead of throwing them in the bin. Point your actions out to your kids and explain why they matter.
Planting trees can be a rewarding activity in itself, but when your children watch their trees grow, they can see the impact they have made in a very real, tangible form. We planted some trees at a community event a couple years ago and we recently went back to check on our trees’ progress. The bare ground of the planting site had turned into bush. The children were amazed and proud that their small actions had made such a big difference.
Image by PeterDargatz via pixabay.com