Talking to anyone about sustainability or land conservation can be a challenge, but when it comes to children, this topic can be difficult to talk about in a way they will understand. I must say, though, that it’s a discussion worth having with your kids. The beauty of children is that they are natural learners and usually are open to learning through activities.
I see land conservation as the way we use earth’s natural resources wisely to save the planet and give back to nature. We should teach children how nature, oceans and land are important eco-systems, and how they are homes to many animals, insects and plants.
Teaching my kids about the value of the environment and the importance of preserving the world around them is an ongoing task. I feel it helps ensure a positive future for the earth. This how I do it:
Gardening—Gardening and kids are a natural mix. It involves dirt, digging and water — children’s favorites. So, gardening is an activity my children and I do that helps them understand this concept. In our garden, we grow lots of vegetables and fruit. Here, my children learn how we plant a seed, and that it sprouts, becoming a seedling that we then plant in our garden bed. They learn that, for the plant to grow, it needs water and sun. And they learn how we provide this. It also teaches children how plants eat carbon and, by planting, we also clean the air. They learn the important role of plants, bushes and trees on the planet, and how we can’t simply cut down all trees and remove green patches without replacing them in order to conserve our planet.
Compost—I believe it is important that we teach children to protect and restore the environment. Educating kids about composting is surely a great way to start. Composting truly is one of Mother Nature’s most miraculous processes. Using only natural means to implement what usually is garbage, you’re able to turn “waste” into one of the most beautiful and productive growing mediums. Composting also teaches children how to reduce waste and keep it from going to a landfill. You don’t need a huge garden — or any garden at all. As a matter of fact, you can compost in an apartment.
Recycling—Sorting through recycling is a surprisingly fun activity for my kids; they even will pick up litter in nature or on the beach to recycle. It’s also a good task to perform with kids so they learn what can go into the recycling bin and what cannot. Recycling, just like composting, is a way to teach children how we can keep our waste from ending up in a landfill and how this can help save the planet.
Spend time in nature—There’s no better way to connect with nature and help them appreciate our planet than getting outdoors and enjoying nature. It’s so great to see how almost anything — ants, worms, wildlife, mushrooms, flowers, funny looking trees, puddles and ice — can catch their attention forever. (I have an array of stones, twigs, leaves and other items from nature that were just so special and had to be saved.) Nature is a wonderful classroom where we can teach our children how important it is that we take care of all the trees and water because they are homes for all the wonderful treasures they see. My children also like to write in their naturejournals about what they see, feel and experience when out and about, which gives them time to reflect and preserve memories.
Read—Books are a fantastic way for children to learn about helping the earth as well as to see in-depth something they truly care about. My three children all have favorite animals, so we borrow books from our local library and learn about these animals, where they live and what their homes are like, and how can we help take care of them. Some books have great activities for children to embark upon. You can participate together. Or, they can do it alone — this empowers children to feel they are the ones being green all by themselves while having fun. One of my favorite books is Easy to Be Green: Simple Activities You Can Do to Save the Earth.
Getting a little help from our friends!—Thomas the Train is my boys’ favorite toy because they love to travel by train. Thomas & Friends have teamed up with the UN to roll out several videos, play tips and conversation starters to help parents talk to their kids about complex issues, land conservation being one of them. It’s a fun and playful way for young children to learn about sustainable goals. I have gotten a lot of use out of the video and tips for playful ways to teach my children land conservation. I loved the video we watched in which Thomas talked about all the animals he had seen on his travels around the world, and how important it is that we take care of the forests because they are these animals’ homes. That stuck with my boys when they watched it.
It’s never too early to begin teaching your children about our shared ecosystem. The fact is that we parents are the examples who can provide knowledge and eco-activities. Our children will become the leaders for new innovations to nurture a healthier planet.Never in history has it been more important to encourage children to be green, to raise ecologically conscious children.
To learn more about Thomas & Friends Global Goal click here:
To learn more about recycling with kids click here: