Raising environmentally aware young people has never been as valuable as it is today. In this new technologically-advanced world, it’s easy for kids to go a day without any experience or contact with nature. Encouraging a respect for the planet in your children is a positive step that you, as parents, can easily take. After all, changing our own attitudes and raising our level of awareness is the most impactful thing we can all do to make a difference.
This month is an important one when it comes to saving our planet. This Monday was International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer (phew!), World Car Free day is coming up this Sunday and Recycle Week kicks off from Monday next week! So to get in the spirit of things, we've brought together some useful tips on helping your child learn more about environmental awareness, and some fun activities you can do together along the way.
Teach them the three ‘R’s - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
An oldie but a goodie. It’s easy to remember, and is taught in schools worldwide; reduce waste, reuse resources and recycle materials. Show your kids how your local recycling system works, and which bins to put what in. Lead by example and make it a family habit to always separate out your waste. When you go shopping together, encourage them to take their own backpacks to get them in to the swing of reducing plastic waste.
Recycling can also be a great chance for your children to show off their creative skills! Challenge them to build a robot out of cardboard boxes, or a raft out of plastic bottles. Who needs fancy new art supplies when you can just use rubbish?
Help them understand where their food comes from
These days, it's easy to forget where our food comes from. Everything comes neatly packaged up in the supermarket, so we don't always know the time and energy that goes in to it. We can all become more conscious consumers, and it can be really fun and rewarding helping your kids learn more about the journey from farm to plate.
Go on a family day out to a farm, or go foraging or berry-picking if you live near the woods (just make sure you know what's edible!). Farmer's markets also make for a lovely weekend activity, while giving you and your child the chance to chat to the people behind the food you're buying.
Get to know the local flora and fauna
Whether you live out in the sticks or in a bustling city, there's always nature all around you. You don't need to go to the zoo to experience some amazing wildlife! Raising environmentally aware young people means helping them to acknowledge and appreciate the living things around them. Check out this article on the ways children benefit from being out in nature.
Make DIY bird-feeders together, and name the different kinds of birds you see with the help of a local bird book. Rock-pooling on the beach or exploring rivers and ponds are also simple things to get children engaged and excited about the natural world. Just remind them to leave things where they are, especially when it comes to small creatures. It's important they understand that every living thing has its place, and it's better to observe rather than disturb.
Grow plants together at home or in your garden
Planting and growing seeds is such a valuable way of helping your child become more aware of planet Earth. Letting them experience the process step by step not only helps them brush up on their Biology, but develops a deeper appreciation for living things.
Seeds, soil and planters are easy to get from your local garden centre, and even some supermarkets. Let it be your child's responsibility to grow and take care of the plant. You can even grow things like herbs or vegetables in your own kitchen that you can use in the cooking for a more eco-friendly meal!
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