How To Teach Your Kids To Care About The Environment

Teaching young children to care about the environment is a bit of a challenging task, at least conceptually. Trying to explain to a five year old that our actions affect the larger world at hand and that those actions can have either positive or negative consequences is probably expecting a lot. For young children the best teacher is experience, get them outside and let them discover, explore and interact with the natural world for themselves with you acting as guide. Encouraging their curiosity and building familiarity are the best ways to connect them to our environment.

The first and most important rule for getting kids to care about the environment is simply, get them outside. This may sound obvious and you may be thinking that they get out enough by playing in the park or the playground. Fair enough that exposes them to trees and grass, insects and birds, but also get them out in to wooded areas. Even some of the biggest metropolitan cities have good public parks, Central or Prospect Parks in New York City, Rock Creek Park in Washington DC, Miami has Fairchild and Matheson Hammock, Runyon Canyon in LA and do it on a regular basis. Make these places familiar to them, not just an occasional field trip, but a place they have a connection to. Try and schedule a weekly or every other week trip out in to nature.

Allow them to explore and experience for themselves. Let your kids wander around and interact with nature for themselves. Let them get dirty, dig in the mud, poke around in the stream, see what they can find under rocks. Again, you don’t need to teach them or lecture them, let them figure out it for themselves, let them ask questions, be their guide. You as a parent also need to show them that you have an interest in the natural world, so if the rock is too heavy for them to move, or if they need a hand, get in there with them. And however you both interact within nature, be gentle, be careful, show respect for the natural world, your kids will pick up on that.