If there is to ever be a response to environmental issues that will transcend generations, there must be an effort to educate children. Children might not understand the technical terms, but simple things like recycling can be an activity that includes them. Simple inclusion may not go far enough, there should also be dialogue as to why an activity is being performed, and what good can come of it. For young children, I would suggest avoiding scare tactics, but point out benefits without emphasizing consequences. Older children can be exposed to consequences, but this should be done so without suggesting a dire situation exists. Of course you can make it clear that there is a responsibility involved in helping the Earth.
Our Environment: Teaching Children Responsibility
Ecology is so important it must be addressed early when a child is still open to, and seeks, knowledge. The environment can be considered with age appropriate learnrning.
Start Environmental Education with Young Children
It Is a Good Time for Learning
Young children enjoy being read to, and once a child becomes acquainted with reading there is a desire to perfect this skill by reading alone. Children devour books, and if they are as I was as a child they will have limited books available, so reading them often is quite possible.
Books for very young readers are easily found. They should contain many pictures to reinforce the word meanings, and small, familiar words. If there are too many words a child does not understand there will be discouragement, and once discarded the book will be of little value. But, if there are a few new words that is fine as long as you are prepared to explain them. In fact, interaction with a parent may actually improve how engrossed the child will become.
Fortunately, many books on the environment are available for young readers. Some may concentrate on one issue of ecology, anther may focus on a different ecological issue. There are so many ecological issues of importance it is not likely one book will cover them all.
If an activity is suggested, and it is possible, the child likely will believe in the importance of the activity if it is done as a family. Showing agreement in an idea goes a long way. Equally, showing disdain for an idea does much harm.
ecology for Children
|Earthways: Simple Environmental Activities for Young Children|
Fun Activities for Going Green
Older children might be interested in proactive activities. Allow the child to explore concepts like wind or solar power with age appropriate toys. The toy itself might not save energy, but it might instill the initial thoughts that windmills and solar power are valuable, an idea that can flourish later in life.
Of course progression to more age appropriate books is also a positive activity.
Children Are Impressionable
Children are impressionable, and ideas they develop can remain for life. But, a child might not really like school. Making the information available in a way that does not look like a lesson is being taught might find an eager learner, but if the child detects this is like school there might be a total shut down. Make the experience fun, and you should be rewarded with the material being accepted.