Children are natural environmentalists. Growing their awareness usually has more to do with helping them hold on to their intuitive concern for plants and animals rather than with attempting to spark their interest in the first place. Here are ten simple things parents can do to help kids think green.
This is both the simplest and most vital step in raising environmentally conscious children. Too many of us are suffering from what’s now being called “nature deficit” and a disconnect with the world outside is one of its tragic effects. Regular time spent outdoors, whether it’s a weekend walk or a daily cycle, could help kids grow up in touch with the reality behind the concepts we talk about.
Model green habits
As with just about anything else to do with parenting, what we do speaks louder than what we say. Are you consistently recycling? Do you try to fix or repurpose something when it’s broken?
Involve them in family choices
Make the most of the “Why?” stage and chat with kids about why you shop at local traders or choose organic. Ask them to brainstorm with you to figure out how to reduce your water and electricity consumption as a family.
Make time for wonder
Try slowing down and taking the time to really notice little things. Toddlers are brilliant at stopping to look at slugs and ladybirds. We could learn from their focus and let children see us marvelling at a pretty flower or stop to observe bees collecting nectar.
Finding out more alongside our kids shows the value of learning and that none of us is ever done with it. Watch a nature documentary together, take a tree identification book on a walk or sign up to a foraging class together. If your child asks a question and you don’t know the answer, write it down and go find out together.
Growing food is a powerful way to connect with the environment. It can also be a lot of fun. Little ones learn about the basics of the water cycle and the effort behind producing food. Older ones can start tackling questions about industrial farming and organic practices.
From junk modeling to updating furniture, upcycling offers children an opportunity to think creatively and the confidence to try new things rather than relying on throwing an object away and buying a new one.
Shop second hand
Get into the family habit of shopping second hand and you could well inspire a lifelong love for searching for the gem in a charity shop.
Read about environmental issues
Whether it’s Dr Seuss’ The Lorax or an issue of Wildlife Watch magazine, reading about conservation and environmental problems opens up so many opportunities to take the conversation further.
Finally, if you’re keen on raising environmentalists, encourage your kids to turn their concerns into political action. This could mean going on a march together or writing a letter to their MP. It’s never too early to engage with political change.