How to make children aware of the environment? A vast project when you are parents! Passing on your values to your family requires patience and an open mind. Juggling with activities that will create a bond and develop eco-citizen reflexes at the same time is a fine balance. However, whether it is with the discovery of nature, recycling or reading, workshops and games will be on your side to promote this learning. Educating children in eco-citizenship can be considered with joy and curiosity, you just need to know how to proceed. This article explores 7 tips for finding playful keys to teaching and sharing with the youngest the importance of respecting the planet.
1. Awaken children’s curiosity by observing nature
Talking about eco-citizenship to a child of 3 to 5 years old will not make much sense. It is a difficult concept and its definition seems abstract for such a young age. This does not mean that you cannot sensitize him to nature, on the contrary.
The first step in developing an ecological conscience is taking into account your environment. To do this, take advantage of walks around your home to draw his attention to the details. Observe the clouds, seek in passing forms to identify animals, figures. Point out a bud about to hatch, the nuances in the bark of a tree, the influence of the wind on the movement of the leaves. Notice the rabbit which crosses the field at full speed, the bird which flies away carrying a twig, the snail which transports its shell.
Approach your environment with empathy. The best way to touch a child in the first moments of their life is to get into the emotional side. This will be the first phase, of incredible importance, for his ecological education.
2. Raise awareness of fauna and flora while having fun
In general, children need to play, to release their energy and to learn in an entertaining way. Fortunately, there is no shortage of activities to help them develop eco-citizen reflexes! After nurturing their sensitivity, you can arouse their curiosity with the help of practical workshops. Here, the gaze analyzes, dissects, questions itself.
Create opportunities for encounters with wildlife, for example by building a birdhouse or an insect hotel. In this way, your child will have a point of reference where to return to refine his observations of nature and contemplate the evolution of his environment. To go even further, why not invest in a magnifying glass so that he approaches and discovers the wonders that surround him from another angle?
Continue commenting on the surroundings, as you did in the first tip, mentioning the reason for falling leaves, how to tell the age of a tree, etc. This is the perfect time to enlighten him on the passage of the seasons. So that he can properly understand the characteristics of each of them, develop your own family herbarium. It will be a unique opportunity to understand the flora, in addition to offering precious moments to experience together.
3. Introduce children to gardening
Nothing like putting your hands in the ground to appreciate all its beauty! How to explain where food comes from if not with a vegetable garden? Maybe this is the opportunity for you to create one or to expand it with a section reserved for your child. Allowing him to realize his own space will have a considerable impact on his autonomy and his ecological awareness. You will be able to make him understand the origin of the food, and even go and reap the fruits of his labor before going into the kitchen and on his plate.
Following the evolution and growth of its plantations implies seeing nature as living. Witnessing his transformation leads to being sensitive and taking care of those around him. How to destroy when you have waited weeks before seeing a shoot bloom? Let it get dirty in the process, it’s an integral part of the experience.
You can, of course, sow a tree if the vegetable garden is not yet in your plans or design a planter to put on a windowsill or hang on a balcony. The objective remains the same: to create with your child a small piece of nature where he can note the metamorphosis of time.
4. Develop eco-citizen reflexes with household chores
Involving your family in the maintenance of the house is a giant step in the construction of eco-citizenship. Sharing tasks is proof of civility and solidarity that will have a lasting influence on your child’s education. Of course, we are not talking here about asking him to scrub the toilets every Sunday, at least not at 4 years old! But rather to make him active in the home by inviting him, for example, to participate in the races. In this way, it will be easy for you to make them aware of responsible purchasing.
You can also develop together a calendar showing the seasonal vegetables and fruits that you will display in your kitchen. Then ask him about the products he encounters in the supermarket and the era in which they are grown. No doubt he will remember where food comes from and make wise choices as he grows up.
5. Teach the youngest to recycle in a playful way
Making recycling fun is child’s play! It certainly requires a little preparation, but you will quickly be rewarded for your efforts.
Get bins of different colors, one for each sorting category, to make them easier to identify:
- green for glass;
- yellow for plastic and cardboard;
- blue for paper, newspapers, flyers;
- gray or black for the rest of the waste.
Peelings and other organic foods can also be placed in a dedicated composting area.
Next, create or print maps showing trash cans and maps showing trash. Mix your two packets and ask your children (from 7 years old) to associate them correctly. An action in two shades since the game will find its concrete application in the house.
6. Educate children about eco-citizenship with the transformation of objects
A popular saying often evokes the ability of children to have fun for hours with a simple piece of cardboard. This trend is a real godsend to make toddlers aware of waste.
Use the materials around you to create a playground. Have you ever considered the creative possibilities of toilet paper? He can, in fact, transform into beautiful spring flowers, super-fast cars, or zany characters. Why not paint on the pebbles you come across while walking? Or picking up other elements of nature (driftwood, shells, etc.) during family hikes to make unique garlands? Organize a recycling workshop to give a second life to the papers in your blue trash can. Teach your child to use an entire sheet before getting rid of it.
You can even make eco-friendly paint with red cabbage, the juice of which will turn blue with the addition of baking soda and purple with vinegar. Turmeric or beetroot are also sources of intense colorations with which to experiment.
Raising children’s awareness of the environment also means teaching them the value of everyday objects. Picking and throwing is a behavior to be abandoned. By teaching them from an early age to redouble their creativity through recycling, they will undoubtedly develop this eco-citizen reflex.
7. Adopt the right daily actions to respect the environment
Of course, how not to talk about respect for the planet without mentioning energy? As parents, you are the models on which your children will base their actions. Remembering to turn off the light when leaving a room, being vigilant when the tap is running continuously, closing the refrigerator after taking out food are all gestures that will be mimicked. Do not hesitate to mention them and encourage them. Your speech must always be positive and playful, this will be the best way to convey your values.