The Earth has been through a lot in recent times and children are our only hope to keep it in one piece after we’re gone. It’s never too early to start teaching your children to respect nature and care for the environment. In fact, you have to do this because the world doesn’t stand a chance if you don’t.
While Kids can get excited about nature, you’re going to bore them with all your dry talk of “carbon footprints” and “single-use plastics”. To really keep them interested in saving the planet, you’ve got to keep things playful.
Remember that kids don’t care about statistics, government policies, and scientific reports. And so you need to teach them in a way that doesn’t bore them to sleep (and make them hate the subject of environmental protection altogether).
Here are some cool ways you can teach children about the environment:
1. Plant a Garden
Planting a garden is a fun way to teach children about the environment while getting them to participate. Kids love any excuse to go outdoors and get their hands dirty, so this will be easy.
While they play, you can teach them about sustainable living. You can choose to plant a backyard or a community garden for this exercise.
It’s okay if you don’t have a lot of space to create one. You can plant a small garden on any spot in your yard that gets good sunlight. There’s also the option of settling for a small potted plant if you have no hope for a garden at all. Things don’t have to be perfect.
The general idea is to get your kids to care for nature and watch something grow. If you need help creating a garden, there are tons of DIY tutorials, and small garden hacks available online.
Your kids will be blown away by how the earth provides food, and they’ll develop an appreciation for nature at a young age. As they watch their garden grow, you can sneak in lessons on photosynthesis, plant needs, soil composition, and different vegetation.
2. Go on Nature Adventures
Nothing says fun to a child like exploring and heading out to seek adventure. A good day in the great outdoors will leave a remarkable impression in their minds like nothing else.
Having the wind in their hair and the soil under their feet will help your kids grow a deeper connection with nature.
To make things even more fun, you and your children can play pretend games of being explorers (and if they watch Dora the Explorer, this will be super fun for them).
Looking for a place to start? You can try visiting a park, going on a hiking trip, or having a picnic. Those activities can be super fun and impactful.
3. Teach Them Environmentally Friendly Habits
If the world is going to change, it’s going to start with your family. It’s not enough to tell the kids that taking care of the environment is great; they have to be active participants to make a difference. Start new environmentally safe habits at home. Give your children daily tasks to carry out and offer rewards when they get it right.
You can teach them to turn off unused light switches (energy is precious) and make it a rule to turn off the faucet when brushing their teeth. Instead of leaving the tap running and wasting all that sweet water, they can use water from a cup.
4. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Teach your children the right way to take care of their waste. Reducing, reusing, and recycling should be a mantra at home and a serious moral code. You can make it fun too. It doesn’t have to be a total chore.
Start by packing them a waste-free lunch and explaining the importance of your act to them. You can also get your kids reusable lunch bags with their favourite cartoon or anime characters and reusable forks and spoons to go with it.
Don’t forget to teach them how to classify recyclables. To make it exciting, get a jar to save the money you all earn from recycling, and after a while, get the children a cool toy with the money earned from recycling.
5. Do Beach Cleanups
Take your children to the beach and after a long day of having fun, participate in a beach cleanup. You don’t need to do an all-out cleanup (although that would be great) but cleaning your immediate surroundings at the beach is a great way to teach lasting lessons of responsibility and respect for the environment.
Take nice pictures of the beach together, and then tell your kids about all the beautiful and friendly creatures living under the water, and how the ocean needs to remain clean. Nobody likes trash getting dumped in their homes, and we should respect the ocean creatures by not trashing their homes either.
If going to the beach is out of the question, you can focus on taking care of trash and recyclables even if they don’t belong to you. You and your kids can join community cleanups and raise awareness on environmental issues.
6. Teach Them Why Plastic Bottles Are Bad
Plastic bottles are bad for the environment. People dump plastic bottle waste into the ocean, and 100,000 marine mammals are killed when they ingest these plastics every year. There are many reasons why you and your kids should switch to using reusable bottles. You can form a small “emergency” meeting and educate them on these reasons (remember to keep it fun).
Besides being bad for the environment, bottled water isn’t as pure as people imagine. Most times, the water isn’t filtered, and there’s nothing special about it.
It’s often no different from tap water, and the only difference is that it comes in plastic bottles that are terrible for the environment. Instead of using plastic bottles, you and your family can opt for water filters because they’ll provide you with purer water while letting you cut down on your plastic waste.
With bottled water, you also have microplastics to worry about. Educate your children on microplastics and how they can get into the water from plastic bottles. They should be able to understand that if plastics are bad for our oceans; it’s terrible for them to be in our drinking water too.
A final point you can throw at them is that toxins from plastic bottles can lead to diseases and make us very sick. You should encourage the use of reusable bottles and water filters.
7. Go Carpooling
Teach children how gas usage affects our environment. When you run a car, gas burns, and this burnt-out gas evaporates into the atmosphere and causes pollution. To keep pollution levels low, we need to use gas as minimally as possible.
Get your kids to help work on your car and do the math on how many miles per gallon your vehicle operates with, and discuss how this affects the environment.
With that understood, you can make it a habit to go carpooling at least once a week. It’s fun, and you can do it with a friendly family member or family friends that are also passionate about the environment. It’s also OK to take a bus.
Carpooling is a way for us to reduce our carbon footprint, and when you put it simply for kids, they appreciate the concept and learn lessons that’ll forge their adult perspectives on the environment.
Riding bikes and taking walks are also encouraged. It’s a way for the family to keep fit and spend time together while reducing gas consumption.
Trying all the listed points in this article almost guarantees that your children will have a memorable and environmentally conscious childhood. Good luck!