“Our children no longer learn how to read the Great Book of Nature from their own direct experience or how to interact creatively with the seasonal transformations of the planet. They seldom learn where their water comes from or where it goes. We no longer coordinate our human celebration with the great liturgy of the heavens.” ~ Thomas Berry
With Earth Day upon us again, I’m thinking about our kids. I’m sure on that fateful day in 1970, marchers thought about their future and their children’s future. But for most kids these days, learning about protecting the Earth is just another classroom ‘activity’ on April 22nd.
What about how we teach them at home?
In the article, Growing up Free: Inspiring a Love of Nature, the writer states,
“Wise people throughout history have recognized that nature provides intellectual stimulation, aesthetic satisfaction and spiritual solace…If exposure to nature has been a formative experience for so many of our wisest teachers, how can we deprive our children of that instruction?
I admit, I’m guilty of not providing this: “…their own direct experience of how to interact creatively with the seasonal transformations of the planet.” Living in a NYC suburb, I was protective of my kids…hardly let them out of my sight. I drove them to their friends’ houses for play dates, picked them up from school, and vigilantly watched them outdoors.
But I worked hard to empower my kids to be ecologically conscientious through the way we live — daily interactions and conversations. One mom on a mission said her son was ecologically challenged when he moved away from home. She suggested to start them young. I share her frustration, and with more and more reports about the dire need to act fast on climate change, we need to educate our kids better and sooner.
BEYOND EARTH DAY: 5 WAYS TO TEACH KIDS TO CARE FOR THE PLANET
- Let your kids get dirty. My kids loved inviting neighborhood kids to our backyard to eat grape tomatoes off the vine, run around without shoes, and splash in the small wading pool.
- Allow your kids to get ‘lost’ in the woods. Provide opportunities to help them become outdoor adventurers and discoverers. Check out these nature activities for the entire family here and here.
- Introduce your kids to gardening. One activity I used to do with my kids was to share seeds with my neighbors for Earth Day. I printed seed packet patterns and my kids put the packets together. We went door to door, sharing seed with our neighbors. My kids loved being ‘teachers’ and my neighbors were thrilled to receive free seeds.
- Use natural supplies when crafting with kids. They will learn to appreciate the materials nature provides for free. This is a perfect opportunity to teach them about reusing and recycling old materials and preserving natural resources.
- Share a book on Earth Day to celebrate! Here are some suggestions from the EPA.
Whether you give your kids opportunities to experience nature directly or not, you’re their first and best teacher. Let them know that saving the Earth for their future starts with you.
How do you teach your kids about Earth Day?