My kids are green!
“Children are born with a sense of wonder and an affinity for nature. Properly cultivated, these values can mature into ecological literacy, and eventually into sustainable patterns of living.” ~ Zenobia Barlow, “Confluence of Streams”
It‘s said that we don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children. So it’s our responsibility to make sure we teach our children to respect, care for, and protect the wonderful natural resources that we all share. The health of our planet depends upon the children of today who will become stewards of the earth tomorrow.
How can you encourage environmentalism in your children or grandchildren?
- Give them a sense of control. Depending upon the age of the child, don’t go into too much scary detail about all the problems the earth is facing. Instead, tell them that they are part of the solution—that they can help keep the earth healthy and beautiful.
- Take your kids outside. Make sure they experience the beauty and wonder of nature on a regular basis so they understand the value of what they are charged with protecting.
- Be a role model. Kids learn by watching and listening to everything that we say and do. Make sure that you set a good example by doing things like turning off unnecessary lights, reusing and repurposing instead of buying new, and recycling unusable items instead of just throwing them in the trash. Make sure to explain why you’re doing the things you do so they understand how important environmentalism really is.
- Make recycling fun. Turn it into a game or a challenge! Ask children to think of three new uses for something that they first identified as garbage. Even if the item does still end up in the recycling bin, it’s a good way to get kids thinking about reusing and repurposing. Reward kids for every 10 items they recycle or reuse. Make the prize something nature-related, like a family walk to a favorite park or the chance to pick out a special plant for the garden.
- Teach your kids about the planet. Kids are information sponges, and the more they know about the earth’s wonders, the more they’ll care about protecting it. For some great fast facts about the planet, visit Planet Pals.
- Turn garbage into art. Encourage your children or grandchildren to make art projects out of found objects, like this “recycled castle”. For more great art and craft ideas visit Planet Pals recycled crafts page.
- Read all about it! Choose children’s books and stories about nature and environmental causes to help kids understand the issues in a way that makes sense to them. A Mighty Girl has a list of books they consider to be the top children’s books on the environment.
- Plant a garden. Get kids invested in the earth by showing them the wonder of life through plants and vegetables they grow themselves. Even if you don’t have a yard you can still start seeds on a sunny windowsill. Considering planting seeds from the fruits you eat, which is a great way to help kids understand the lifecycle of plants. Seeds harvested from citrus fruits grow particularly well.
- Get them thinking. Have your kids write a list of ways your household can conserve, reduce, reuse and recycle. Once again, getting them invested in the process and feeling responsible for their own little part of the world will help make environmentalism something they are always aware of and thinking about.
- Swap instead of buying new. When your child loses interest in a toy, encourage them to share it with another child, or swap it with a friend or sibling for a toy they do want to play with. You might even want to organize a toy swap with other parents in your community to get everyone recycling instead of buying new!
410148 CAN/US (04/15)