Children who learn young about nature, conservation, and protection of biodiversity in the environment will grow up to do more for the planet and themselves. That's a fact and an important one, given the looming environmental crisis. But how can we help our children understand sustainability and do the best they can for the planet? Here are some ways we thought of.
Be a role model. The first step is to be the change you wish to see in the world. If you are careful with natural resources, chances are your kids will pick that up without even knowing it. Turn off lights every time you leave a room, shut off taps when you are brushing or doing the dishes, opt for bucket baths over showers, choose natural materials over plastic, say no to plastic straws and food containers - there are a number of green choices you can make every single day. Trust us, your children will watch and learn. The earlier these become a part of their everyday life, the better it is.
Talk about it. Every time you make such a green choice, talk about it. Not to preach but to help children understand why every small switch is important. Introduce concepts such as pollution, recycling and climate change in an age-appropriate manner. For very young children, littering is an easy concept that can then be developed into more detailed conversations as they grow. For slightly older ones, hand-me-down clothes, books and toys can be a great way to talk about re-using and reducing mindless purchases.
Provide good experiences. A sustainable item can be good in many ways. A favourite toy made sustainably is not just about the joy of play; it can also be a teaching moment about the materials used, why it is essential. Chores can be fun too - for instance, involve them in grocery shopping: where does all the food come from? How are fruits & veggies grown? How long does it take? Why are they wrapped in plastic in supermarkets but fresh & breathing in the vegetable vendor's cart?
Explore the outdoors. Nature walks and sustainability strolls bring kids closer to mother earth. Let them explore the beauty of nature and appreciate how the planet functions and how each creature has a place in the chain. For example: how crows and dogs co-habit with humans; how earthworms help the soil, and so on. You can love something or work for it only if you understand it and feel close to it.
In the interest of staying safe, make sure you wear masks and practice social distancing at all times - avoid crowded times too when more people are out and about in the parks.
Use Science. Simple experiments like solar cookers, composting organic waste, and growing and caring for plants at home (especially in water, like herbs from kitchen seeds) are fun bonding activities that can go a long way to teach kids about the environment.
Read. Books are havens for everything. Stories that talk about sustainability, or talk about waste reduction, recycling, etc. are great ways to get the message across. Here are some of our recommendations.
Habits are hard to break after a while. They are also easier to form when the child is young. And as the saying goes, there is no time like the present. So this Earth Day, let's start the green conversation!
What earth-friendly practices do you follow at home? How do you involve your little one in them? Tell us in the comments!