If you are an eco conscious parent there is no doubt your kid will be one too. The only challenge we may face as parents is finding an effective way to teach our children about the environment. There is a growing concern that the environmental information our children find on television or in schools is biased either by activists who scare children with “gloom and doom” stories or by companies who are trying to downplay the effects of pollution in our environment.
To the average parent, finding accurate, balanced environmental information for children can sometimes be quite a challenge. But why rely on schools or TV when we should do it ourselves in the first place? There are plenty of simple ways that we can help our kids understand the significance of caring for the planet. The key is to inspire them without sounding preachy or overly militant. Here are some things we can do to engage our kids and inspire them to become caring earthlings:
- Foster love and empathy for nature. Hit our local Bay Area trails, pick up a snail, explain the preciousness of life and how every single creature wants to be happy and avoid pain.
- Develop environmental values. Point out the trash and oil spots in our beaches, show a dead bird or fish and explain that it could have died early because it ate too much plastic or other environmental toxins. Graphical and real examples like this are very powerful.
- Put values into action and walk the talk. Engage kids in recycling, compost if you want, bring your own bags to the store, buy less plastic, shop in your local farmer’s market. Take part in community “green” activities. Plant a garden or a tree and watch it grow. Take a weekend adventure to a state or national park. There’re so many things we can do!
- Help children discover the roots of problems and be part of lasting solutions. One of the best way to do this is to bring your kids to a beach cleaning day that is organized by www.saveourshores.com They will learn a lot.
- Counter the consumer culture, starting in your own home and community. This was already discussed earlier in the previous post on Kids & Consumerism. Let’s start talking about this with our kids early.
- Generate hope and combat apathy. Remember, our enthusiasm is contagious. If we you are excited about being a mindful and caring resident of the planet so will your kids.
If you want more, check out a book called Eco Kids: Raising Children Who Care for the Earth. Each chapter of this book includes an inspiring case study of a child who’s making a difference, short pieces that highlight serious problems such as global warming, along with positive solutions that can be read aloud to children, and activities for children. A resource guide lists helpful books, articles, videos and organizations. Also check out this www.ecokids.ca page. It’s community based website with fun games, challenges, activity ideas and even homework help.
Great Local Resources if You Live in Bay Area, CA:
Environmental Volunteers – This is a local organization who believes all children deserve to learn about the natural world through personal exploration, so they can become responsible stewards of the earth. Explore local ecosystems and enjoy interactive programs in both the classroom and on field trips.
Bay Area Kids Adventure Summer Camps – they have an Outback Adventures Kids Camp which is uniquely different from traditional summer camps. Their camps focus on outdoor adventure and fitness through exploration, cooperation, and learning.
Blackberry Farm – After being closed for nearly two years, Blackberry Farm re-opened on July 4, 2009. The park has not only been upgraded, but also restored to improve the natural habitat for native trees, animals, and fish. Improvements to the park include construction of a new ticket kiosk, re-plastering of the pools, a new water slide, new bocce ball and horseshoe courts, and numerous upgrades to the west-bank picnic area.
Rancho San Antonio – The 3,800-acre Open Space Preserve, combined with the adjoining 165-acre County Park, offers visitors a unique experience to check out diverse environments, farm animals, interesting cultural history, and a variety of activities.
Most importantly remember to always enjoy, have fun and set a great example. Raising kids is a true gift for us, let’s make it one for the planet as well.