Raising Environmentally Aware Kids

earth boy

With the push for accelerated learning and the dependence on organized after school activities in this country, our children are increasingly isolated from nature.

While organized sports can be a really great experience for young children and provide some outdoor exercise, children today simply don’t spend as much time connecting with nature. An afternoon spent digging in the dirt is a rarity for many kids.

It can be difficult to raise environmentally aware children when they are running from one activity to the next and rarely spending time just enjoying their surroundings.

While school schedules, work schedules, and city living can make it difficult to find time for nature, it is essential to teach our kids to care for the environment. When we teach our children that small changes can make a big difference and that our trees and plants are vital components of healthy living, we help them to understand that their actions are important. They can make a difference.

Check out: 5 Fun Ways to Celebrate Earth Day with Kids, every day

Here are five ways to raise environmentally aware children.

child playing in the dirt

Head outside!

It is nearly impossible to teach your children about the wonders of nature if they rarely have time to enjoy it. You have to prioritize downtime, and some of that downtime should include getting their hands covered in mud.

 Plant: Even if you live in an apartment building, chances are you can plant a window herb garden or garden box (if you have a balcony or deck). Ask your children what kinds of vegetables they might like to grow and spend some time learning about planting seeds.

child planting seeds

Play: Unstructured playtime is the key to a happy childhood. Kids are far too stressed out these days, even in Kindergarten. Get out and there and swing, skip rope, or have a hula hooping contest. Find time to play.

outside swing

Pick: Wildflowers (even the ones that blossom from weeds) can make for a beautiful centerpiece. Create a weekly centerpiece for your kitchen table by picking some flowers that already surround you.

girl holding flower

child with plastic bottle
Image via PoYang_??, Flickr

Create kid-friendly trash.

The labeling for recycling is super kid-friendly. Even a preschooler can learn to recognize the recycling symbol. Set up trash and recycling bins in a place where your children can easily access them and teach them to recognize what goes where. Let your kids take charge of sorting and trashing and watch them take pride in their eco-friendly work!

succulent garden

Recycle art.

Do you have a child who roams around the house searching for things to reuse in her art? I do. Before you sort all of those cereal boxes into the recycling bin, consider creating a recycle art bin first. Kids can do amazing things with boxes, bottles, torn clothing, old scraps of paper, and toilet paper tubes. Making something new out of something old is a great lesson in the art of reusing.

How to: DIY Succulent Garden in Egg Carton

light switch

 

Light and water monitors.

Little kids love to have big jobs. Responsibility makes them feel independent and increases their self-esteem. Consider having your children take turns acting as the light switch monitor (turn off the lights when you leave the room) and water monitor (turn off the faucet while brushing) to teach the importance of energy and water conservation.

family service project
Image via Dolores Park Works, Flickr

Community service.

Family community service projects are a great way to bond, make an impact on the community, and teach your kids about the collective responsibility of taking care of our world. Consider joining a park or beach cleanup day or see if there are any community gardens that could use some weeding. While adults worry about things like germs, kids genuinely enjoying getting their hands dirty!

Read more about a family Lending a Hand: Rebuilding a Katrina House in New Orleans

How do you teach environmental awareness?

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What do you think?

Raising Environmentally Aware Kids

Katie Hurley, LCSW is a Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist and writer in Los Angeles, CA. She is the author of "No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident, and Compassionate Girls" and "The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World". She earned her BA in Psychology and Women's Studies from Boston College and her MSW from the University of Pennsylvania. She divides her time between her family, her private practice and her writing. Passionate about he ... More

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8 comments

  1. Profile photo of ccmalls39 ccmalls39 says:

    Wonderful.

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  2. Profile photo of MAMASEXXY MAMASEXXY says:

    THIS SOUNDS LIKE A GOOD IDEA, BUT I WISH I COULD DEAL WITH THE HEAT OUT HERE.

  3. Profile photo of MAMASEXXY MAMASEXXY says:

    I’M STILL WORKING ON THIS WITH MY DAUGHTER.

  4. Profile photo of MAMASEXXY MAMASEXXY says:

    WE USE SOMETHINGS FOR ART PROJECTS BUT HAVE NEVER USED EGG CARTONS

  5. Profile photo of MAMASEXXY MAMASEXXY says:

    I’VE STARTED RECYCLING AND MY DAUGHTER WANTS TO RECYCLE EVERYTHING.

  6. Profile photo of MAMASEXXY MAMASEXXY says:

    THIS IS WHAT I DID AS SOON AS MY DAUGHTER WAS STRONG ENOUGH TO SIT UP ON HER OWN, TO THE PARK WE GO.

  7. Profile photo of Phammom Phammom says:

    Well written, couldn’t agree more!

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