As of January 2020, 64% of United States adults consider environmental protections to be a top political concern. With climate change, resource depletion, and pollution at the forefront of many people’s minds, there’s no better time to teach your kids about the environment. You don’t need to launch into formal lessons— you can make learning about the environment fun! Here are some easy ways to help your kids learn about taking care of the environment:
On the one hand, taking the time to read a bedtime story (or a just-because book) together is a great way to get away from a constant stream of electronics for a while. But, on the other hand, it’s also a fantastic opportunity to talk about the environment. Pick up a few from your local library or favorite bookstore. Books like The Watcher (about Jane Goodall) and The Water Princess (about Georgie Badiel) can give insight into people and movements that have helped advance the environment. When in doubt, pick out books about animals—it’s bound to catch your kids’ attention.
Have a connection to using less energy in the home. Compare energy providers with iSelect to get the best bang for your buck—and take the opportunity to talk to your kids about using less electricity. You don’t need to try to explain your choice of electricity providers to your toddler, of course, but you can discuss the importance of taking time away from the TV or iPad screen. Help them learn to turn off the lights when they leave the room and the faucet while they brush their teeth. Not only will you help reduce your carbon footprint but you’ll save some money in the process, too.
Try Some Environmentally-Friendly Activities
There are countless options for eco-friendly crafts and science fair-ready projects, but you can also take advantage of more long-term options, like taking up composting. Or, take some items from your recycling bin and get creative with some upcycled crafts. Take an afternoon to spend some time together and take advantage of all the teachable moments along the way.
Think About What You Eat
If you’re trying to encourage your kids to be more conscious of their environmental impact, something else to consider is your family’s diet. Start with where and how you buy your groceries: buy organic and buy local whenever you can. Use reusable produce bags and shopping totes and opt for zero-waste packaging whenever you can. In terms of your foods of choice, consider trying a plant-based diet for a big impact or adopting Meatless Mondays if you’d rather start small. Talk to your kids about where their food comes from and how it’s made. You can even bring them into the kitchen for some environmentally-friendly cooking lessons.
Lead by Example
Sometimes, the best way to teach is by making some environmentally-friendly changes yourself. Make sure you’re practicing what you preach, so to speak: watch your energy usage, take some time away from your work computer or smartphone, and eat more veggies. Young children in particular often model behavior exhibited by their parents and others (consider it the “monkey see, monkey do” effect). Do your own research to learn more about the environment and the impact you have on it. Adopt small changes to reduce the negative. Set a good example for your children and they’ll quickly pick up the lessons behind each adjustment.
However you choose to teach your kids about the environment, you can feel confident in knowing you’re raising children who care about the world around them. Help them with minimizing their energy use, let them put their favorite fruit in your reusable bag at the store, and lead them to their new favorite book. Together, you and your family can help make a difference!