The late Whitney Houston once sang about believing that the children are our future, that we should teach them well and let them lead the way. As it relates to our kids and the importance of providing them with environmental education, Ms. Houston’s point is very valid.
A big part of the reason why the eco-friendly movement is such a powerful one is because many of us, as adults, know that our environment is in crisis and so we must take highly proactive measures to do things to protect it so that our children will have an atmosphere to live in and enjoy. Plus, a pivotal role in parenting, teaching and mentorship is to provide young people with the tools that they need to become responsible adults. This includes teaching them how to honor and respect the world that they live in.
So, when the question is posed, “Why is an environmental education important for kids?”, the reasons are many. It teaches them about the earth. It educates them about why taking care of it is the responsibility of every person living on it. It gives them the tools to know how to do so. And, it provides them with information as it relates to animals, plants, and even their own personal health and well-being.
If you’re someone who is interested in creating a curriculum to teach your own children about the environment, you don’t need a degree in environmental science or a masters degree conflict resolution in order to do it. There are simply a few key factors to keep in mind:
Keep it simple, fun and outdoors. Whether it’s reading an eco-friendly book to your children or playing some kind of educational game, there’s no greater way to encourage your child to embrace the environment than to have them spend a concentrated amount out in it. Sit on the front lawn, take walks in the park, or go on a hiking trail. One thing that you don’t want to do is make your lessons so academic that they end up thinking that being eco-friendly is a boring thing to do.
Let them experience some things for themselves. There is definitely a time to “talk” and there there’s a time to “do”. Say that you are teaching your child about insects one day. You could have them go through a series of flashcards or write a report. Or, you could have them go outside and chase after butterflies or try and catch some fireflies in a mason jar. The more that children are allowed to become “one” with nature, the more that they will definitely develop a compassion for it.
Lead by example. Parents continue to be the main influence on their children, so if you want your child to care about the environment, make sure that you lead by example. Have plants in the house. Use natural light more often. Maybe press some flowers or leaves and put them in a picture frame. Recycle. Turn off appliances that you’re not using. The list is endless, but if you make it a point to be environmentally-aware, before you know it, your example will become your child’s habits. Quite possibly, all the way through adulthood.