Talk the Talk: Introducing Eco-Vocab to Your Child | Seventh Generation
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Talk the Talk: Introducing Eco-Vocab to Your Child

Author: RealMomofNJ

I kind of remember my daughter's first official word -- it was mama or dada, I'm not positive -- but I definitely remember her first eco-friendly word. It was compost. We were cooking together, and I was gathering scraps to chuck into our countertop compost bin. She grabbed a handful and held her fist over the bin and asked, "Mama, compost?" to ensure that the peelings and ends were not part of our dinner. I said yes and proudly watched her stuff the bin with carrot bits. I was proud because she had picked up the word on her own. I hadn't specifically taught it to her. Apparently I used it more than I thought.


That usage is key. It's [obviously] how children acquire language. They begin by hearing words. This is why it is so beneficial to read to your children. This is also why it is beneficial to use a lot of words, and introduce new words at every opportunity. My daughter speaks eco because I spoke it to her. I differentiated throwing something in the garbage versus recycling. I told her we must conserve energy as I switched off lights. I discussed how we compost our produce instead of throw it out. She picked up on the nuances of these words. This is not amazing. But it is meaningful.


I could've called the compost bin the garbage can so she understood immediately what I meant. I could have told her simply to turn off the lights. I could've called the recyclables trash. But I used the lingo automatically, so that is what she learned. Simply by using the correct vocabulary, she is learning about responsible environmental practices. I love that. I wasn't even thinking about teaching her about being green, but the lessons began on their own. 


Photo: bikesandwich


freidaroberts picture
Children are more attracted towards voices. They learn things more easily when things are audible to them. So we must make more conversations with them in order to improve their speaking abilities. new york city kids
Halli620 picture
I am so glad that you are teaching your daughter sustainable practices, and I hope that more and more people begin to adopt these habits too, and pass them on to their own children. However, to pretend that there is such a thing as "eco vocab" does nothing other than to reinforce stereotypical ideas among less-green folks that living an eco-friendly life is a "chore" and that it takes too much extra effort for "regular" people to take part in. My mother taught nursery school for many years, and always taught her classes about recycling, with demonstrations such as collecting the aluminum foil from their lunches for a period of time to show how it adds up, and grew plants such as potatoes for them to later eat. Who knows how much of these lessons stayed with these children after nursry school, but I hope they were remembered. It is the concept you are teaching children, as you stated, for why you turn off the lights, and why you separate items that can be saved from a landfill, etc., and of course new concepts come with new words to explain and describe them. It is not the words themselves that will make her a responsible person; it is understanding the concepts, and why these actions are important, and the words will help her describe to you and to others what should be done and why. I am so glad that you're teaching your child to be a resonsible citizen of our country and planet, and I know that you know all of this; but I feel that the way you're describing your teachings to her can be easily mistaken by non-"green" people to mean that there's some whole set of "words" they would have to learn when they don't want to bother with, when what you're really teaching is concepts of, as you said, "responsible environmental practices."