As you integrate green living choices into your own life, you might be wondering how kids fit into the equation. What does it really mean to have a "green kid?" Greening your children is about going beyond the things that you do to create a green lifestyle for your family—it is really all about education.
Today’s kids will soon rule tomorrow’s world. The best that we can possibly do to prepare the next generations is to consistently teach them about the green living values that are critical for their own survival. After all, they do share a common future with our planet.
The very mention of the word ‘childhood’ connotes the concept of play. In ages past though, childhood was also about learning responsibility and doing work. Chores and responsibilities helped to instill a sense of pride in children, giving them their own important place in the community. And the idea of community is probably the first important step towards getting children to think green.
The most important thing you can do to teach your children about the environment from an early age is to provide them plenty of opportunities to play outdoors.
Here are some green kid activity ideas:
* If you have outdoor space, encourage them to plant seeds, care for them, and watch them grow.
* Build a birdhouse in the backyard.
* Bond with them during a bike ride out in the woods.
* If you live in the city, take them to your neighborhood park and observe the butterflies that come to pollinate the flowers. Tune your dial to nature’s channel as you listen for birds and watch for other outdoor critters.
* You can even take them to a community garden where they can learn how others grow fruits and vegetables.
It might indeed take a bit of effort to smoothly work it into your schedule, but actively helping your child to build direct connections with the natural world instills a deep respect for the planet from their early years.
America’s landscape is defined by endless stretches of scenic geography—venture out and create experiences for your green kid to learn and observe the natural world at work. Consider these ideas and add your own to the list:
* Plan a geographical expedition and take your kids to a state park for a hike or a weekend camping trip.
* Explore waterfront activities such as canoeing, kayaking, and fishing.
* Talk with your children about the plants and animals they see and the things and places that you love or would like to explore.
* Have them engage in drawing activities and nature journals where they can record all that they experience on your outing.
Today’s kids will soon rule tomorrow’s world. The best that we can possibly do to prepare the next generations is to consistently teach them about the green living values that are critical for their own survival.
Clichéd as it sounds, childhood does not last for very long at all, and yet, most parents invest a lot of time stressing about day-to-day situations. Make a commitment to increase your time investment or to continue spending quality time with them—don’t waste these precious years!
Green at Play
Cooking TogetherIt is easy enough to infuse a child’s experience with green living values in the guise of play—everyday tasks can become a fun and meaningful way for them to live and to learn about the world that surrounds them. Getting children excited about composting or recycling starts right at home. Children are generally fond of routines and creating compost heaps or sorting recycling from garbage in the kitchen can be a great activity to experiment with at an early age. This type of project involvement in the home can extend into other green value practices, such as picking out recyclable items during grocery shopping trips or involvement in school or community recycling programs.
Also discuss community-based options with your child, such as volunteering some time at a community garden, which nurtures a consideration for the earth and a connection with fellow community members. Cooking together provides an ideal opportunity to encourage your kids to think green—you can teach them about nutritional health, where our food comes from, and the importance of eating together as a family.
Green Media Toolbox
Since nearly all kids are magnetically drawn to any kind of media, why not use this as an educational tool for green living?
* Seek out television shows and interactive media—or better yet live theater—that teach green living values.
* Rather than relying on what is available in your neighborhood, actively suggest that environmental entertainment be incorporated into your child’s school curriculum.
* Check out environmental TV shows such as The Discovery channel or websites for environmental entertainment organizations such as www.greenkids.org to get ideas for performances that you can discuss with schoolteachers or your PTA. Green media or performance activities make for rich and meaningful field trip opportunities.
Green educational opportunities outside of school also await your green kids—look for extracurricular activities that nurture environmental consciousness.
* There are plenty of kids’ clubs in which you can enroll your child that focus on preserving the environment or saving animals that are in danger of going extinct.
* Your local library is sure to offer you plenty of resources ranging from books to community clubs and activities that you can explore. Discover Life is a great Web site that hosts a Green Kids Books section, allowing you to meet authors and illustrators of kids’ environmental literature.
* Environmental magazines such as National Geographic and Sanctuary, and Web sites such as www.kidsaregreen.org, offer quizzes, activities, contests, and resources that help support you in teaching children about environmental issues all over the world. You can encourage your kids to give their friends subscriptions to such magazines for their birthdays and holidays.
Above all, have your kids do as you would do yourself. The truth is kids learn more from there their parents than anyone or anything else—if living green is important to you, then rest assured they too will pick up the habit. You are without doubt the most important person in their life, and chances are they will want to do what you do. Remember though, you won’t have them for a very long, so while you do—teach your children well!
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