While terms such as “carbon footprint” may be too complex to explain to children, the simplest way to teach children to be eco friendly is by making them avoid wastage of resources. It is good to explain to them that there are many children in our world who do not get enough food, water and other things such as electricity that we often take for granted. Parents can teach even young kids simple good habits like switching the lights and fan off when not in use, turning the tap off while brushing and not wasting food and paper.
Children learn better and faster when the learning process is made fun. Try to engage your child in fun activities like craft projects that make use of waste materials that you would usually throw out. With a little imagination you could use newspapers to make envelopes, carry bags and paper mache articles with your child. Old plastic bottles and containers could become interesting pen holders, flower vases, piggy banks, miniature pots for indoor plants or herbs for your kitchen window. A cardboard shoebox could be made into a decorated jewellery box. Bigger cardboard boxes could become a dollhouse! A touch of creativity could make wonderful things out of simple thermocol that you usually throw out. Unused pages from old notebooks could be gathered and stapled together to make a notepad for drawing or writing.
When your child is old enough to understand, you could explain why trees are very important for the ecosystem. You could plant seeds together and watch the plant grow. This will become an interesting method for your child to learn about how plants grow while teaching them to care for the plants daily. The sense of responsibility that your child will develop towards that single plant will eventually be extended towards nature in general. You could allow your child to select plants from a nursery and choose a spot in a suitable open area where they can plant it. Encourage your child to look after the plant and watch his awareness towards other plants and trees in the surroundings increase.
Use your imagination to give your child ideas. Have fun together by teaching your child to look at a piece of waste and imagine what it could become. In time, children will learn to use their own imagination and creativity. This certainly beats watching cartoons all day!
You could also browse the internet for fun craft projects that make the best use of waste articles. Such projects will enable you to spend some quality time with your child while doing something creative, productive and educational.
Children who are old enough to read can be given easy reading material about the environment and related issues. It would be good to read with them so that you can encourage discussions about the topic. You could discuss pollution, why it is important to conserve energy and water, how to avoid littering and other such topics.
To increase a child’s interest in adopting and advocating an eco friendly lifestyle, involve their friends group by conducting a painting competition with an eco friendliness theme or spend an evening making the “best of waste” .
Use these ideas and watch your kids put their resourcefulness and imagination to use as they learn the concepts through creative projects. While they get to proudly display their talent, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that they have learnt good things.