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The Gap Year Blog

How to Encourage Children to Respect the Environment

31 Jan 2020 16:05 PM

We should all be aware that children are the future. They are the ones that will be running the world in no time when we're no longer there. However, so many people doubt that children can understand important matters and with some fun teaching and engagement, they can learn.

Children of all ages are like sponges. They acquire knowledge fast and learn about new things easier than adults. This is why it’s important to talk to them about the environment. Children will understand the importance of planet preservation, sustainability, and protecting the environment. All we need to do is find a way to present it to them.

Here’s what you should do to encourage children to respect the environment.

1.      Make Sure They Love the Outdoors

In order for the kids to respect the environment, they need to fall in love with nature. Spending time outdoors will help them develop a connection to the world surrounding them.

This will lay grounds for teaching them to respect the environment.

So, how can you make sure your children love spending time outdoors?

Here’s a couple of suggestions:

-          Start with yourself, and always suggest outdoors activities

-          Teach them how to play with mud, leaves, branches, or rocks

-          Get a dog and make sure your kids take them for a walk or to the park

-          Spend family weekends by the lake, on a mountain, or doing anything outside

If you start from the earliest ages, you’ll be able to teach your kids to love nature and everything they see outside. Then, you'll find it easier to teach them to respect it.

2.      Explore Together

Take things a step further and turn spending time together outside into an exploring adventure.

When you’re out with your kids, talk about all the beauties of the nature that you know and love:

-          Teach them the names of trees and plants

-          Talk about the birds, squirrels, and other animals you see

-          Explain how animals depend on nature preservation

-          Have them smell a flower, touch the water in the river, or walk barefoot on the sand

Teaching your kids about the diversity of the natural world will help them fall in love with it.

3.      Explain Recycling

Start with small, everyday activities such as recycling.

Make sure you don’t just order your child to separate the trash without telling them why it’s so important for them to do it.

So, teach them:

-          What are the types of trash?

-          Why they need to separate it?

-          What happens if trash isn’t recycled properly?

You can even take them to an area nearby that is polluted with trash if there's such a thing in your city.

Show them how bad it looks and explain it damages the plants and the animals.

4.      Assign Them a Plant

To make sure your children understand how much love and nurturing it takes for things in nature to grow and flourish, you can assign them with their own plant to take care of.

For example, you can plant a tree together, or buy them a house plant:

-          Explain how to take care of it

-          Show it

-          Help them the first couple of time they water it or remove the dead leaves

-          Leave them to continue independently

Taking care of a plant of their own will be a serious task and it will help the kids bond with nature even more.

They’ll learn to respect everything they see and find in nature, even the smallest plants and trees.

5.      Volunteer Together

Volunteering is another great way to teach your children to respect the environment and be selfless.

To encourage them to take care of the world around them and protect it, you could take them to volunteering events such as:

-          Picking up the trash by the lake

-          Planting trees

-          Cleaning beaches

-          Removing weeds

Explain the impact you’ve made in a single day of volunteer work and how it reflects the planet you live in.

Teach them that a single person can make a significant impact and that they should never stop working on their role in protecting the environment.

6.      Control Plastic Waste

The average person creates enormous amounts of plastic waste on a daily basis. This plastic waste goes on to pollute our planet.

Some of it takes hundreds of years to decompose.

It’s important that your children understand what happens to plastics once thrown away, and why they need to reduce plastic waste production.

Give them a simple example:

-          A plastic straw is something children like to use

-          They use it for 10 minutes until they finish they drink

-          They throw it away

-          The straw is too small to recycle so it ends up in the landfill (The Washington Post)

-          Some of the straws end up in the oceans, forests, on the beaches, and in the rivers

-          They can harm the animals and pollute their environment

Once you explain this to your children, you can help them learn how to reduce their plastic waste:

-          Use a reusable water bottle and refill it instead of buying a plastic bottle of water every day

-          Use a bamboo toothbrush instead of the plastic one

-          Stop using straws or use a reusable stainless steel one

-          Use a cloth bag for shopping instead of plastic bags

The simplicity of these tips will make sure your children understand their impact on the environment and how little it takes for the world to be a better place.

7.      Provide Education

Once your kids reach a certain maturity, you can work on a more serious and official education related to the environment.

That means that they’ll be ready to learn about:

-          Climate change

-          The ozone layer

-          Deforestation

-          Plastic waste

-          Air and water pollution

-          Carbon footprint

If you know a lot about this subject, you can talk to them and explain how things work. The most important thing is to explain the impact of an ordinary person, such as themselves, on the environment.

Use different resources to get informed:

-          Credible websites such as Frontier, WWF, National Geographic, HuffPost Green.

-          Credible magazines such as Wild Earth, Greenpeace Magazine, Down to Earth, Frontier Magazine.

-          Articles

-          Academic papers

-          TV shows

You could even look into foreign resources, and in case you need help with translations, you could check out Pick Writers.

Teach your kids how their habits impact the environment and what they can do to make a positive instead of a negative impact.

You could also take them to an educational seminar, workshop, or camp, where teachers and other professionals will teach them about these things.

Final Thoughts

The first step in encouraging children to respect the environment is for you to respect your children. You have to believe that they’re able to learn such things and be responsible for their actions. Then, you can talk to them openly about planet preservation and help them acquire the necessary knowledge.

Use the tips above to encourage your children to respect the environment. Who knows, maybe they’ll go on to becoming true environment enthusiasts and activists.

By Donald Fomby - Frontier Guest Writer

Frontier runs terrestrial & marine conservationcommunityteaching and adventure projects in over 50 countries - join us and explore the world!