11 Tips on Teaching Kids to Care for the Planet
Our children are the future of the planet, and now more than ever, we need to teach them better stewardship than previous generations.
It’s no longer enough to show our kids how to recycle and teach them about finishing their food. The next generation needs to truly love this planet so they’ll protect it against all odds.
But how do we get our children to care about the planet when a third of them worldwide spend less time outdoors than the average prisoner?
Little ones love going outside, getting muddy, and helping out with everything and anything. This is the perfect time to plant the seeds for an eco-friendly, sustainable lifestyle.
- Get them to help you sprout some seeds. You can do this inside during the winter or outdoors in spring. Look at the soil every day to check progress and teach your little one about the magic of growing plants.
Read them books like Michael Recycle. This is a great intro for young children to learn about recycling and water conservation. The back pages are filled with family tips that help reinforce the importance of sustainable living.
Teach them the names of the flowers, trees, and animals in a garden or park. Knowing the names helps children identify plants as real things that need care.
Talk to them about mindful buying when they ask for new toys or treats. Youngsters are in a constant state of “want,” which makes for great opportunities to teach mindfulness. Do we really need another set of X, Y, or Z? Do we really need another piece of paper to colour—or can we turn this one over? And so forth.
- Spend time outside with them and point out the beauty in nature. The best way to get kids engaged with caring for the planet is to sell them on the awesomeness of nature. Point out sunsets, blooming flowers, wonky trees, and watch their eyes fill with wonder at the world.
Teens these days are learning about global warming and climate change in (most) schools. This makes it easier to run an eco-friendly household, but it doesn’t mean our role as adults is done. We need to teach our teens by example.
- Don’t let your teen disconnect from nature. Take them camping, fishing, hunting, hiking, canoeing, snowboarding, running, wheeling… There’s something outdoors for every family.
- Teach your teen about green cleaning with eco-friendly products like sponge cloths and natural soaps. Talk to them about the water bill and how much laundry and baths/showers cost.
Talk to your teen about toxins in personal care products. Help them become mindful consumers and purchase items that don’t pollute our waterways or wildlife.
- Encourage them to get a “green” outdoor job over the summer months to foster their connection to the environment and keep them healthy.
- Bring them to farmer’s markets. Talk to them about food sourcing, pesticides, and why organics and locally-grown foods are better options.
- Discourage mindless driving (a favourite pastime of every licensed teen). Talk to them about greenhouse gas emissions and the vehicle’s carbon footprint.
Getting kids to care about the planet doesn’t have to look like a lecture. You can get outside and have some fun with this too!