Many times discussions that parents have with their children on environmental awareness focus on the fear factor. For example, if we don’t recycle, landfills will overflow. Furthermore the chemicals that leach out from the garbage and waste materials are toxic and dangerous to us. Pollution will eventually affect our breathing and cause us a variety of illness; which will shorten our lives.
In the worse case scenario, children feel powerless and cut off from their natural connection with Mother Earth. If nature is seen as something full of problems, will children be more likely to want to go out and enjoy nature?
Positive and direct experiences with nature are empowering and instil in children, a sense of responsibility and love for Mother Earth. We need to remember that the Earth is more than just the trees and the land, loving the Earth is also about connecting to the oceans, the life in it, all the inhabitants of Earth.
We need a curriculum for all levels of education that integrates environmental issues into all subjects. The designer or future engineer needs to know that his design processes and the making of a particular machine or object, will not harm but in fact takes into account the Earth’s needs and protection. The cook needs to know what to do with the leftover skin of certain fruits, how to make compost. There is no need to consult an environmental expert for this. Everyone “knows” what to do.
Younger children need to engage their senses to learn about the things around them. Preschoolers have an inborn connection to the Earth that motivates and if not affected by the opinions of their role models, moves them towards the love, protection and care of all things natural.
Simple activities parents can engage in with their children to encourage them to love Mother Earth:
- Experiences with the different elements of Earth – have your child experiment with all 5 senses (taking the necessary precautions with taste and touch) the different elements of the Earth (air, water, soil and fire and discuss why each one is important to living beings.
- Crawl Like An Ant – have your child imagine what it would be like to crawl like an ant or have an ant’s point of view, or to build gather food like an ant
School-aged Children (6-11)
- Grow a pumpkin – Google how to hand-pollinate pumpkins or grow hydrophonic and organic vegetables all the way to cooking the pumpkin and do it!
- Come up with a project to solve an environmental problem in your household or commuity, like how to reduce waste in your household – help your child to come up with and test her ideas.
- Write a book – on recyclable paper of course, on a field trip to explore nature.
- Go on a nature adventure like rock-climbing, star-gazing, white-water rafting, kayaking, or camping together to explore and develop nature appreciation.
- Join an environmental group dedicated to protecting endangered species, cutting greenhouse gas emissions, cleaning rivers or beaches or parks for example. Start a local environmental group for teens, doing things like planting native trees or learning ecobricking (looks good on college applications too)!
- Engage in community service for a marginalized community
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