Earthwise - Green Living / Parenting

Raising Earth-Conscious Children – Get Them Involved

Ways to Get Kids Involved at Different Ages

No matter what age your child is currently at, you can help them to get excited about taking charge of caring for the Earth and the environment.

Preschool Children

When your child is younger, begin talking about the issues at an age-appropriate level. Introduce them to many animals, both domestic and wild. Talk to them about how we are all interconnected, and how we as humans must take care of the many living things that surround us.

Young children tend to be extremely caring and are generally very open to learning what they can do to help living creatures. Children come without bias, and only learn it from their parents and the other individuals who surround them on a continual basis.

By piquing their interest in the environment while still young, this will have the effect of propelling them toward a life of service for the things that matter in life. With your child, watch movies about wild animals that portray them as the intricate beings that they are. Take your child to the zoo and wildlife conservatories so they can get up close and personal with the animals they are learning about. Their affection will grow to familiarity and love for the animals they get to know.

Teach your young child about the amazing qualities of flowers and plants. Bring your child with you to the local garden center to pick out their favourite plant to be put into their room. NASA did testing on several plants in regards to air purification, but all plants have the same effect to some degree, so it is really a matter of personal taste.

Your young one will love this chance to indulge in their personal choice, and they will feel good knowing that you trusted that choice. Indoor plants are a natural and energy-free way to purify the air in your home, and even help individuals get to sleep easier, and wake up feeling healthier and more full of energy.

Young Schoolchildren

As your child gets a little older, continue to educate them on a personal level about the world around them and the creatures within it. Younger school-age children are still at a time in their lives where they generally want to be helpful, and are willing to get their hands dirty. Although they may not get a lot done compared to those who are older and able to work hard, their enthusiasm will make up for what they lack in skill and coordination.

Encourage your child to stand beside you in the kitchen while preparing food, sorting out the pieces that can be put into the compost pile. Let them help you in the vegetable garden. Children love hands-on activities and they will enjoy digging in the dirt, or making a game out of pulling weeds. Let them help you dig out the tiny holes and toss a few seeds into each indent where produce will eventually grow.

Middle-School Children

Middle-school-aged children often love playing detective, and this is a great age to help them begin researching food sources and finding out where the things that end up on their plate originally come from. Give your child a notebook and ask them to go through the store and figure out where each of the fruits and vegetables come from. Are they local or imported? Teach your child where to look in order to find out if the vegetables are organic or not, and how to spot GMOs.

Because your child is at an age where they are no longer simply accepting what is told to them, and instead are questioning everything around them, teach them about the deceptiveness of marketing. Help them to learn this lesson and how it applies both to food, items and services. Your child will relish uncovering any intentionally hidden facts, and spotting fallacies in marketing.

Now is also a great time to get your child familiar with becoming a politically active citizen. Any child old enough to compose a letter is also old enough to write to their local politician and state their views on laws that should or shouldn’t be changed. Help your child research where to find this info, and then help them put together a simple letter to make their voice heard where it can make a difference. If you have them write one letter per year, they will be accustomed to fighting to make a political difference on behalf of the Earth by the time they are adults.

As your child becomes old enough to possibly have access to social media with your watchful supervision, allow them to create a blog about environmental issues and reach out to other kids who want to make a difference. Once they have their own email address, help them subscribe to blogs and websites that teach about issues affecting the Earth.

Children love crafts, and this is a great age to help your child see the beauty in creating something lovely out of something already used. No matter what your child’s interests may be, there is something they can design and create out of used materials. Art, clothing and household items are just a few ideas of objects that your child may wish to explore and design.

Teens

Teens are at a stage where they are gaining strength and maturity, and now is a great time for added responsibility at home. Ask your child for their ideas, since teens are filled with creativity and often have even greater ideas than we as their parents do. Have your teen regularly take care of the garden. Equip them with knowledge that will take them far when they have a home of their own someday. The things you teach them now will go with them throughout their lives, so make this time count.

The teen years are a time when children may be tempted to want to keep up with the latest fashion. Through conversations, discuss whether this is a good idea, and why. Talk to your teen about which fashion labels are environmentally conscious. Discuss the concept of clothing quality rather than quantity, and how cheap fashion from overseas is often made at the expense of the health of the individuals trapped in low-paying and unsafe jobs.

A lot of clothing is also made with cheap, synthetic materials which are not earth-friendly in any way. Educate your child about choosing clothing of good quality and eco-friendly materials. Talk about how buying clothing second-hand is another option to cut down on consumerism, and encourage them to donate or give away their own clothing when they are finished using it.

Do a room detox with your teen, taking them step by step through every square inch of their living space. Make plans to give away and donate anything that is not being used. Recycle old papers and materials that your teen no longer needs. This training will stay with them when they are decluttering their own homes someday.

Now that your child is a teen and more independent, buy them a bicycle to ride around on if you live in a neighborhood where everything is close enough that this is an option. Your child can exercise and strengthen their own health while saving on gas money and putting a stop to pollution. Little steps add up to make a big difference. This is exactly the concept you want your child to hold on to for the future.

Environmental Field Trips

Field trips bring learning experiences that will help your child to remember a concept far longer than if they simply read it from a book. Although your child may do field trips through their own school, you can also create extracurricular opportunities to make an impact on your child. Here are a few places you can visit that will get the conversation started about our impact on the world, and what we can do to make as little of a negative impact as possible.

Landfills

Visit a landfill. Talk about what you see. Observe the buildings that contain the massive amounts of waste. Often times children and even adults don’t think about where their waste goes, and just assume it goes into the garbage bin and is never seen again. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The products we consume create garbage, and this garbage collects in landfills, piling up and lasting a very long time, sometimes indefinitely.

Take your child to a dump as well, where the garbage sits out in the open. It is a strong reality check for your child to think about how the garbage bags we fill up every week add up, and that with everyone contributing the same amount of garbage, it can really make a huge amount of waste. The conversation should include the short-term and long-term negative effects that garbage has on the Earth and the people living on it.

Recycling Center

For a field trip that helps remind you and your child about all that is positive in the world, visit a recycling center. Find one in your community and take a tour through it. Your child will be fascinated to learn about where items go after they are taken from your recycling bin. This is a very educational process that will interest individuals of any age. Discuss how recycling helps minimize our negative impact on the Earth as compared to simply throwing everything away and expecting landfills to take care of it all.

Organic Farm

If you want to encourage your child to eat foods that are good for both them and the environment, take them to a local organic farm so they can talk to a farmer and learn about the difference between growing organic and conventional produce. Before you leave for home, allow your child to pick some of the fresh produce to take home with them.

Also visit the local farmer’s market so that your child can learn the joy of choosing fresh, healthy food, and include them in the cooking of it as well. Teach them about how choosing organic produce is so much better for the Earth, and how the practice contributes to healthy soil and plants, as opposed to conventional farming.

Teaching your child to be a productive and healthy citizen of the Earth doesn’t have to be a huge, lengthy lecture. There are many ways to communicate the message to young people, and you will have many opportunities to do so. Use your voice to share your concerns and solutions with the next generation, and watch in anticipation to see where they will take the torch that has been passed to them.

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