Children’s brains are like sponges. They take in everything around them and are capable of processing and internalizing an impressive amount of information. This can be both beneficial and detrimental, as any negative behaviors you exhibit could rub off on your child, or conversely, they can learn by the positive example you set. If sustainability is important to you, as it should be, then the best thing you can do to continue caring for the planet is to instill these values in your child, passing sustainable living onto the next generation and generations to come. Here are some tips you can try out to teach your children the importance of sustainability.
Set a positive example
Young children learn by example, so if you want your children to learn about sustainable living, then you have to practice it yourself. Make sure you are conscious about simple acts that your child will pick up on, such as recycling whatever can be recycled, purchasing local and organic food whenever possible, conserving water, and using less energy or sustainable sources.
Make it fun
Teaching your child about sustainability doesn’t have to remind them of being in school! Make your child want to practice sustainability by making it fun. For instance, you could take them on a “field trip” that will teach them about sustainability, such as a visit to the zoo or park. Many libraries and educational centers offer summer programs to teach children about the environment, where they can learn alongside other children. If you show your children that the things that make the world beautiful and diverse, such as plants and animals that need their help, it will instill in them a sense of social responsibility.
Read to them
Make you child’s next storytime educational and pick up one of the many children’s books available that will teach them about our environment. These books are written in such a way that makes it easy for children to understand, and if you incorporate them into their regular bedtime story routine, they will start to mimic the lessons they learn.
Give them responsibilities
Remember how special you felt in school when it was your turn to be the line leader? Children love to feel important, so once you teach your children the basics of sustainability, don’t underestimate their ability to act on their own. Get your children to start recycling on their own, or have them work alongside you in the garden or accompany you to the farmer’s market. If your child is old enough, find an environmental volunteer project you can participate in together to teach them the importance of sustainability and volunteerism at the same time.
What do you do to teach your own children about sustainability? Tweet me @greg_shnerer to keep up the conversation!