Raising Green Kids

Education Consultant, Will Steger Foundation
Any parent whose child has surprised them by echoing their
speech knows that kids emulate the adults around them. Simply by modeling
responsible behavior, adults can inspire children to take green action.
In addition, we can engage children in active participation by
encouraging them to help with tasks that adults may find routine or tiresome.
Sorting cans and bottles or collapsing cardboard boxes becomes fun for both adult
and child when done as a team.

Parents can also give children responsibility for
household leadership over certain green tasks. A child who is put in
charge of turning off lights and unplugging appliances, or bringing canvas bags
to the store, will feel like a contributing member of the family.

Curiosity and creativity can also find green expression.
For example, an "art box" makes use of colorful pieces of paper,
plastic, string, bottle caps, and other would-be trash. A worm farm recycles
kitchen scraps into nutrient-rich castings while at the same time it provides
kids with inexpensive and low-maintenance pets. A garden or compost pile offers
budding naturalists a backyard setting for exploration and discovery as
exciting and mysterious as any safari.

Since outdoor play can lay the foundation for
responsibility toward the environment, taking the kids into the wider natural
world-by visiting city parks, urban waterways, or more distant wilderness
areas-is both important for nurturing environmental awareness and
fun for everybody.

Child-centered programs and events at natural
history museums, state parks, and community nature centers teach children the
basic concepts of ecology and environmental stewardship and help them gain a
sense of place. Another option would be to research how to protect
animals natural habitats and look for ways to do so in the backyard or
nearby parks or nature reserves. Children have a natural connection to animals
and natures and adults who attend these events with their kids can continue to
encourage learning through conversations at home.

We may do well to remember that talking about environmental
catastrophes can scare or depress children. Young people find wonder in their
exploration of the natural world, and joy in their actions to protect it.
Encouraging positive childhood experiences with environmental stewardship can
engender continued stewardship into adulthood.

K. Andre is a
doctoral candidate in Curriculum and Instruction of Environmental Education.
She is also an education consultant for the Will Steger Foundation and an
instructor for Outward Bound.

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Act Locally


Eco Education,

Wolf Center,

act locally!

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
Chaska, MN

Bell Museum of Natural History
Minneapolis, MN


Raising Green Kids

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