Here Are the 4 Most Important Things You Need to Teach Your Kids About the Environment. (The Planet Will Thank You!)
Have you ever noticed how much your little ones love to run through the trees, jump in muddy puddles and splash in the sea? Children have an innate love of nature – and it is not hard to see why. It is important to teach your kids – and grandchildren – to care for their environment so that they are still able to enjoy it as they grow up.
Despite what you might think, teaching young children about the environment is incredibly easy, because they are innately curious and can quickly develop good habits.
Here are a few tips to get you started and get your little ones caring for the planet:
Teach Your Kids Tip #1 – Conserve Water and Energy
If you live close to a reservoir or dam, take your children and observe the water level at different times. Explaining that as they use water the level goes down will help them to understand why it is so important to conserve.
Water conservation is really easy to put into practice:
- Shower instead of taking a bath, and have a timer that will limit how long they spend in the shower
- Only pour as much water as they want to drink so as not to waste any
- Find a short video (e.g. on YouTube) that shows how people in other parts of the world have to carry every drop of water that they need. Compare this with how easily your kids can just turn on a tap. This helps reinforce how precious water truly is.
- Encourage them to drink tap water, not bottled (bottled water is really bad for the environment).
Similar practices can be put in place for conserving energy:
- Remind them to turn off lights, TVs etc. as they leave the room
- Don’t allow them to open windows whilst the heating or air-conditioner is on
- Turn off appliances when not in use
Teach Your Kids Tip #2 – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
If you take your kids shopping, explain why you don’t buy certain items, to show the concept of Reduce. Also, show them that you don’t buy items wrapped in single-use plastic – choose alternatives and explain why.
Teach children that if something is broken, they should try to fix it or find another use for the item before discarding it. Not only will this reduce waste but getting into habits like this could also reduce financial costs as kids learn to utilise what they already have (Reuse).
Once children understand the concept of Reduce and Reuse, it’s time to talk about Recycling. Lead by example in this instance. If a household appliance has broken, make your kids aware of the steps you have taken to ensure it is recycled. Big brands such as Currys are leading by example in this – they recycle as much as 65,000 tonnes of electrical appliances every year. Driving your kids to a landfill site to see the sheer scale of rubbish will also be eye-opening for them and push the importance of reducing waste. Have clearly marked recycling bins in your home so that they can get into the habit of separating their waste.
Teach Your Kids Tip #3 – Allow Them to See for Themselves
Take your child to a polluted area. This could be an industrial site, a shopping or inner city area, a city with smog, or a beach or waterway where there is a lot of litter. Then take them into the countryside where there are trees, flowers and animals roaming freely. Ask them if the people and animals look happy in each area and where they would like to spend the most time? Chances are, they’re going to choose the unpolluted countryside.
Instead of buying kids yet more toys (probably made from plastic) set up family outings. Armed with notebooks and a phone camera, see who can spot the most birds, trees or flowers.
Teach Your Kids Tip #4 – Teach Them to Garden
Teach your children how to look after your garden, if you are lucky enough to have one. Or just put some pots with herbs on your windowsills!
From planting seeds to keeping food waste for compost, there are lots of fun ways that kids can get involved. Plant some trees to replace those lost through deforestation, convert some or all of your garden to be butterfly-friendly, and grow and pick your own herbs and vegetables.
There are literally hundreds of ways to teach your children how to enjoy, appreciate and protect the environment. They are the generation who will really feel the effects of the climate crisis. We all need to be more aware and live a more sustainable lifestyle.
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