Teaching Kids About Sustainability Through Immersion in Nature
When we are little, we have a natural curiosity that helps us learn about the world around us and how things work. This is why it’s good to start teaching children about crucial topics at a young age, such as sustainability and climate change.
Children are much more capable of understanding complex subjects than you might think. But when it comes to teaching them about sustainability, it doesn’t have to be challenging. There are plenty of fun ways to help kids learn about the environment and the importance of sustainability that doesn’t include sitting them down and giving them a lecture.
Children often learn best through habit and experience. So one of the best ways to teach them to understand sustainability and appreciate nature is by getting them outdoors as much as possible. Connecting with nature not only helps build an awareness of environmentalism in kids, but spending time outside can also improve their cognitive function, mental health, and overall wellbeing.
Why It’s Important to Teach Children About Sustainability
Children are naturally inclined towards learning via critical thinking. Their brains are constantly absorbing, processing, and trying to make sense of what they experience. So parents and teachers need to take advantage of this natural inclination to learn and understand by teaching them about sustainability. Getting them outside and encouraging them to ask questions and think about why taking care of nature is vital will help increase their environmental awareness.
Additionally, teaching kids about climate change and how to respect nature helps them develop a sense of responsibility. It teaches them the importance of taking care of things, as well as having empathy and compassion for things and people. These are essential traits to have as they grow up and learn to navigate various environments and social interactions.
Talking to children about climate change may feel overwhelming at first. It’s a critical topic that they need to understand, but again, teaching them about it doesn’t have to be complicated. Simply getting them outside and teaching them to appreciate nature is the first step. From there, you can advance your conversations to include why nature is vital and how we can do our part to take care of it.
5 Ways to Help Kids Learn About Sustainability in Nature
There are many fun eco-friendly activities that parents, guardians, and even teachers can do with kids to make learning about sustainability fun. Some of these activities can be done indoors, but we’ll be focusing on the ones that help get kids outside so they can actively experience and appreciate nature.
1. Grow a Garden
Growing a garden or even building a greenhouse with children can help them understand the importance of taking care of nature so that it will continue to provide for us. This allows them to see for themselves how amazing nature is and what it is capable of. You can also teach them how to compost, which helps them learn about waste and how we can reuse certain things in other ways.
2. Take Hikes and Nature Walks
Hiking or simply going for walks are excellent ways to immerse children in nature. You can use these activities to help them learn to identify various plants and animals by pointing things out or turning it into a game. Just remember to come prepared. Be sure to bring plenty of snacks and water to stay hydrated so your long walks and hikes don’t turn into negative experiences.
3. Go on Bike Rides
Bike rides in nature or even just around town are great for helping your kids burn off some energy outside, but it’s also an excellent way to teach them about different types of transportation and how some are better for the environment than others. Encourage them to walk or ride their bikes whenever they can. You could even ride your bikes together to run small errands if possible to show them that you don’t always have to take the car.
4. Plant trees
If you have the space, plant a tree or two in your yard with your kids. This is a fun activity that helps them understand why we need trees, and they will also get the experience of watching it grow year after year. If you can’t plant trees in your own yard, try looking into tree planting opportunities in your local community.
5. Go Camping
Camping is an excellent way to fully immerse kids in nature and help them learn about environmental awareness. Taking your kids camping is a fun activity that the whole family can enjoy, but it also means they get to spend an extended amount of time outdoors, which allows for plenty of learning opportunities. The most important thing for them to learn is that you should always take out what you bring in—never leave anything behind, especially trash, as it is harmful to the environment.
These are just a few of the many eco-conscious practices you can do with your kids to help them learn about sustainability. Every kid is different, so don’t get discouraged if they don’t seem open to learning in specific ways. It’s important not to force anything on them, especially outdoor activities. You want them to learn to love nature, not grow to resent it because of negative experiences. There are many ways you can help them learn about the environment; just remember to make it fun so they will want to do it again in the future.