Whether or not global warming is a scientifically sound phenomenon, it’s a widely accepted fact that we need to take better care of our earth. Part of that is raising our children to be nature lovers, so the next generation will be able to appreciate, and protect, our home. Here are some everyday ways to raise a nature-loving, eco-aware child!
1 Invest in a Seasonal Metro Parks Pass
Chances are, whether you live in the bi city or a rural area, there are gorgeous state parks nearby. Why not invest in a seasonal metro parks pass? For one set price per year, you’ll get a sticker for your car, and that sticker will give you unlimited access to the parks, beaches, and trails your local metro parks have to offer. Once you invest that up-front fee, and you have that sticker on your windshield, you’ll be more likely to use the parks, and to bring your children with you!
2 Read about Nature
Most children love to read, and most are naturally curious about the world around them. Encourage their curiosity and help them earn more by reading nature-related books and magazines with them. “My Big Backyard” is a great magazine for younger kids, and “National Geographic” is perfect for older kids and teens.
3 Go on a Backyard Bug Hunt
What sorts of bugs and critters are lurking I your backyard? Take your little one outside and into your own backyard for a bug hunt! Turn over loose rocks and logs and look for grubs, worms, and more. Plant a butterfly garden and even keep a chart of which bugs you have, how many, where, and when.
4 Keep a Bird Feeder
Who doesn’t love bird-song? Stock a bird-feeder with seed and listen, and watch, the birds that come to visit. My favorites were always the hummingbirds, attracted to the sweet red sugar-water in the little feeder I put out. Help your little one identify the birds by keeping a bird book at your favorite window spying spot.
5 Care for a Pet
Another great way to help your children learn to love nature is to adopt and care for a pet. It can be something small and easy to care for, like a goldfish, or a bigger, more interactive pet, like a dog or a cat. Even the youngest children can learn to care for a pet. It’s important that they know what they need to do to take care of their pet, and why.
6 Don’t Say “Eww!”
You may be tempted to say “eww!” or “gross!” when confronted with bit of nature you don’t particularly like (mice, bugs, and snakes, for instance). But unless there’s a safety reason, try not to discourage your child from investigating more closely.
It’s also important to show your children you care for nature by recycling. Let them learn from your good example! Show them how to separate the different recycling bits into their bins, and if possible, let them see what happens to the items you recycle. Let them help you choose products at the store that are more eco-friendly, too. And if little Susi wants to turn those old bottle caps or fabric scraps into “found art,” then let her!
8 Plant a Garden
Is there anything more delicious than fruits and vegetables you grew in your own garden? Teach your children that food doesn’t have to come from a grocery store, that they can grow it themselves! Children who plant and care for a garden will be much more aware of weather, water, and all living things.
There are so many ways to teach your kids to love nature, and so many of them are easy… in fact, you may already be doing many of them! Do you and your children already do any of these things? Are there other ways you’re raising your kids to love nature? Please let me know!
Top Photo Credit: Ink Spots
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