With many kids attending school virtually out of their living rooms, families are spending a lot more time together. Sadly, many communities don’t have the best access to the internet, leaving parents to struggle through homeschooling their kids with few resources with which to do it.
Photo by Maggie My Photo Album from Pexels
If you are looking for ways to keep your kids busy or just want to supplement the education they are getting online, look for ways to teach them how to be a good steward to our planet.
Here a few ways to teach your kids how to live a more eco friendly life.
Sadly, there are far too many children who don’t know where their food really comes from. Before that steak was wrapped in plastic in the grocery store, what was it?
How do bananas grow and what exactly is a parsnip? There are lessons to be had in the grocery store. Take them with you and learn about what fruits and vegetables grow best during certain seasons.
Write down where each food comes from and then head home and look at a world map. Show them how far their avocados had to travel before landing in their guacamole.
Even better than lessons at the grocery store, teach your children how food is actually grown. While growing food in the winter is challenging, certain foods can be grown indoors in winter.
Consider starting a garden journal with your children. Then, once the weather warms up, you can take your kids outside for some digging and seed starting.
An easy way to get kids to understand our planet’s waste problem is to make them take over trash duty. They will soon come to understand that humans throw away a lot of stuff.
Step one for sustainable kids is to learn how to recycle. Even the youngest children can learn how to sort cans, bottles, glass and paper from the regular trash.
Make sure you explain why you are doing your part to reduce waste and not add to our landfill problems.
Ask them about changes the family could make to reduce trash output. They will soon come to see that their juice boxes go in the trash, but their large bottle of juice the fills a reusable glass will eventually get recycled. Or that cloth napkins for Sunday dinner get reused, while paper napkins end up in landfills.
It is hard for children to appreciate what they never see. Spending time out in nature will give them a greater understanding of why they are working towards becoming more eco friendly.
Go on a nature walk with your children and turn it into a scavenger hunt. Look for red leaves, smooth stones, acorns, and other natural elements. When you get home, turn those natural treasures into educational lessons.
Found a snail shell? Learn about the life cycle of a snail. Along the way, teach them how snails break down dead plant material and how rivers turn rough stones smooth over time.
There are manysustainability lessons for kids to be found right in your own back yard.
My kids are in college now but still remember watching Fern Gully as kids. It made an impact on them. There are tons of eco minded books and movies geared towards children of all ages.
While it is tempting to just turn on the television and let it be an electronic babysitter, try sitting down with your kids and actually watching these shows together.
From Wall-E to Happy Feet, you might just find yourself enjoying them, too! And when the movie is over, make sure you ask your kids what they learned and discuss the issues that were raised in the movie.
Children are always learning things we may or may not want them to learn. It takes months to teach them to tie their own shoes but blurt out a swear word in front of them and they will repeat it for a month.
Your kids are watching you, whether you think they are or not. So, model sustainability if you want to raise environmentally friendly children.
Let them see you leaving the house with a reusable shopping bag and stainless steel water bottle. Let then help you cook dinner or make a batch of homemade cookies.
Don’t expect your kids to learn lessons and actually live those lessons just because they saw it on television. If they don’t see you living those same values, it will go right over their heads.
Show your kids that trash can be turned into something new. Whether you make toilet paper tube binoculars or popsicle stick bird houses, there are thousands of ways to upcycle unwanted things into new items.
Give them an old egg carton to start seeds in for your garden or let them paint an old golfball and turn it into garden art.
Upcycled crafts are a great way to teach kids that reusing things can be fun for them and good for the planet.
Teaching kids how to be eco friendly takes time and a little bit of hands-on attention. You can find resources online if you have access but don’t forget about your local library, too.
You can find many good environmental books for children, both fiction and nonfiction. Make sustainability lessons fun so they don’t even realize they are learning!
And remember, model the lessons that you are trying to teach them. Showing your children how to live more sustainably won’t help if they see you constantly tossing trash out the car window.