Getting Your Children Involved in Environmentalism
Our kids are growing up in a different world than we knew in our childhoods. Climate change is accelerating every single year, putting cities around the world at risk for natural disasters — and it’s largely caused by human activity. As parents and as people, it’s our responsibility to instill a value for environmentalism in our children as early as possible, so future generations can thrive.
The best part of teaching environmentalism is it’s not just beneficial for the world. It can be a healthy way to get your child outside and teach them respect for all living things. Environmentally aware children grow up to be caring and responsible adults. Plus, your environmental education can show kids how their actions can have a huge impact, which can inspire them to think critically about their actions and find creative ways to change the world.
So how exactly can you involve your child in environmentalism? Here are four strategies that you can use to teach kids to love and care for the natural world.
Helping children connect with nature is a key part of encouraging them to embrace environmentalism. Kids who spend more time outdoors, rather than watching TV or scrolling through their phones all day, naturally feel compelled to preserve their favorite places and gain environmental awareness.
Getting started can be as simple as bringing your everyday activities outdoors, perhaps allowing your child to bring their laptop or tablet to do homework at the park. Children are naturally curious, so as they spend time outside, the world around them — from the sound of birds to the height of trees — may start to spark their interest. This interest will help you encourage your child to go out of their comfort zone and further immerse themselves in nature. For example, if your child loves being by the water, you can take them kayaking, which is a fun and exciting activity that gets them away from their screens.
If your child needs an extra nudge to spend time outside, consider using modern technology to manage their screen time and app access. You can even get custom reports about your kid’s activity to see how much your child’s device usage decreases as they start to embrace the outdoors.
Once your child has developed a healthy interest in the outdoors, they’ll be more attentive in conversations about the earth. Start discussing how humans benefit from a healthy environment. For example, you can explain how the water we drink comes from natural sources.
Then, find ways to explain the connection between their actions and the health of our environment in simple ways. Following our water example, you can explain how littering or pouring old cleaning solutions down our drains can contaminate water and make it undrinkable. This will build your child’s awareness of their environmental impact.
Now that your child knows why they should care for the environment, it’s important to show them why they should do so, too. Start engaging your kid in fun hands-on activities that can benefit the earth. Consider taking your child and their friends on a litter scavenger hunt, creating a checklist of items for them to pick up: a water bottle, a blue piece of trash, something that’s bigger than both their hands and more. You can also challenge your child to make zero waste for a day. Whoever ends up with the least amount of trash wins!
You can also support your child when they decide to challenge themselves further. This allows them to independently take their environmentalism to the next level — and feel a greater sense of accomplishment and confidence while doing so.
If you want to introduce your child to a long-term eco-friendly activity, consider starting a garden with them. This allows you to show them how to compost food scraps, manage water usage, choose pollinator-friendly plants, and to build a sustainable garden that thrives. Gardening can also teach kids work ethic, as well as how to eat healthier and be more aware of where their food comes from.
City dwellers can still get kids involved in gardening on a smaller scale. You can take them to your community gardens or nurture small plants in your home.
If you’re passionate about helping your child adopt environmentalism, there’s a good chance you’re already making an effort to live sustainably. Getting your child involved in your day-to-day efforts — like biking to the store instead of driving or upcycling waste — can be a great way to teach them how they can regularly care for the environment.
The more you model sustainability and support your child as they make eco-friendly choices, the more likely they are to grow up with a strong sense of environmentalism.