We need a generation that grows up taking their role as guardians of the earth very seriously. We need earth-friendly, ecologically-aware children who grow into responsible adults. The good news is that teaching them this can be a lot of fun!
Seven Tips to teach your kids to be eco-conscious
#1 Be a good role model.
This is perhaps the easiest way to teach your children to be eco-conscious.
Children pay attention to what you do. If you recycle, reuse and pay attention to how you consume, your children will grow up with that example. When you show them that caring for the earth is important to you, through your every day actions, they will pick up on it.
As an adult, I have an absolute horror and hatred for large scale clear cutting of forests. But it makes perfect sense – my father and grandfather told me many times about how the forest was a precious resource, that landowners had a responsibility to care for it and keep it producing indefinitely. When we would drive along the highway, my father would point out acres of clear cut land and nearly spit with rage. How could I not soak in a love for the woods and forests?
#2 Discuss your earth-friendly choices with your children.
Look for learning moments to discuss why you are eco-conscious. For example, when you’re shopping you might choose to purchase an item at a flea market. Explain to your child why you’re buying used instead of new. Our children understand that “everything brought up on the mountain must be carried back down” and so they look for ways to diminish the garbage that we bring home.
#3 Help them explore nature.
Nature is what you’re trying to preserve and protect. If your child doesn’t get out and enjoy nature, they won’t have an appreciation for the earth. Take nature hikes. Enjoy the beach. Head to the mountains or take bike rides. Just get some fresh air and sunshine.
#4 Field trips.
Some recycling centers, landfills and water treatment plants offer tours. Check out your local facilities. What educational experiences are available? If they don’t commonly offer tours, consider visiting them on Earth day. Show your children what happens to our trash and waste water. Help them learn the cycle of consumption. It’ll help them appreciate what they use.
Gardening is a wonderful way to appreciate and experience the earth. If you don’t have space outside you can create a windowsill herb garden. Use recycled, reused and organic material to create your garden. For example, tin cans to plant your herb seeds in. Compost to fertilize the soil. Rainwater to water the plants.
#6 Make it a game.
Show your children how much water or electricity you use each month. Make it a game to lower your consumption. Turn off the lights when they’re not in use. Use water sparingly. Turn off all appliances. See how much you can reduce your electric, gas or water bill during the month. Then reward children for their efforts.
Become active in outdoor clean ups. If your community has a “clean up the park” day, sign the family up. Volunteer at your recycling center. Or assist the recycling program at community events.
For example, many running events have recycling volunteers to make sure all those paper cups from the aid stations end up in the recycling bin rather than the street or the garbage. Show your children that the Earth is important and enlist their help in keeping it clean.
Most importantly, follow through on your words. If you tell your children that being environmentally conscious is important to you then follow it up with rules. Limit television viewing time. Ask them to turn off the lights. Make sure they don’t take twenty minute showers. Create a recycling center in your home. When it comes to teaching children, follow through is important.