“If we want children to flourish, to become truly empowered, then let us allow them to love the earth before we ask them to save it” – David Sobel.
If that quote got you right in the feels, then teaching your child about sustainability is obviously important to you.
As it should be.
By educating your child about sustainability, you are not only helping them to understand the impact of their actions on the environment, but you are also instilling in them a sense of responsibility for the planet they live on.
Studies have shown that children who learn about sustainability at a young age are more likely to adopt sustainable practices and make environmentally conscious decisions as adults. Not only does teaching children about sustainability help to reduce their carbon footprint and protect the environment, but it also helps to foster a sense of stewardship for the planet.
Research has also shown that children exposed to environmental education at a young age develop a greater appreciation for nature and improve critical thinking and problem-solving skills. In fact, a study published in the journal Environmental Education Research found that children who participated in outdoor environmental education programmes significantly improved their cognitive and social development.
So teaching your child how to help the environment, in turn, helps them in their development.
Now that we know the undeniable benefits of teaching our young children about sustainability, the next question is – how? If you’re concerned because your child wouldn’t be able to pronounce sustainability, never mind learning what seems to be a complex topic, we suggest you start simple. And as always, start fun!
Learn sustainability through play
Like most things, your child will probably grasp concepts they learn during play.
In a busy world where technology dominates, allowing children the space to be present and get creative is essential. As child development researcher Dr David Whitebread explains, “Play is one of the most important ways in which children learn. It underpins formal learning later in childhood.”
A bonus for parents is that play isn’t just about having fun. It’s also a powerful tool for learning and development. Research has shown that play can help children develop a wide range of skills, from problem-solving and critical thinking to social and emotional intelligence. Engaging in play allows children to explore and make sense of the world around them, build their confidence and resilience, and even improve their academic performance.
When teaching children about sustainability, play is once again a valuable tool. Try using play-based activities, such as creating recycled crafts or building with the LEGO® DUPLO® Fruit and Vegetable Tractor – the perfect toy to get your little one excited about growing food, farming, the earth and sustainability in general. By having them play with a toy that is aligned with what you are trying to teach them, your child can learn about important sustainability concepts in a fun and engaging way. Through play, they can understand their actions’ impact on the environment and learn how to make more sustainable choices.
Make sustainability part of daily life
Integrate sustainable practices into your daily life and involve your child in them. For example, show them how to recycle, compost, turn off lights, and conserve water. Make it fun by turning it into a game, such as a scavenger hunt for recyclables. We promise, you’ll start having fun too!
Explain why sustainability is important
Children are naturally curious, so take advantage of this by explaining why sustainability is important. Use age-appropriate language and visuals to help them understand the concepts of reducing waste, conserving resources, and protecting the environment. There are plenty of child-friendly songs online that talk about conservation, for example, just don’t hold it against us if they get stuck in your head!
Play outdoor games
Outdoor games can be a great way to teach your child about sustainability. For example, you can play a game where your child has to collect leaves, sticks, and other natural materials to create a collage. This not only teaches them about the importance of reusing materials, but it also helps them appreciate nature too.
Teach about sustainable food
You can teach your child about sustainable food by involving them in growing and preparing food. Try your hand at starting a vegetable garden, and have your child help you plant and water the vegetables. You can also teach them about the importance of eating local and organic food and reducing food waste. Don’t be surprised if they’re popping veggies into their mouth while harvesting that they would NEVER eat on their plates otherwise. It’s a win-win, really.
Create recycled crafts
We mentioned this before, but crafting with recycled materials is a great way to teach your child about sustainability. Use old magazines and newspapers to create collages or cardboard boxes to create a castle or a fort. This teaches your child to be inventive when it comes to reusing materials and helps them develop their creativity.
By slowly incorporating sustainable practices into your child’s daily life and using play to teach them about sustainability, you can help them develop a sense of responsibility and watch them grow into environmentally conscious adults. The world thanks you in advance.
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