Teaching Children to Love Nature

One of the best ways I've found to Protect Planet Home is to teach children to love and appreciate nature. One of my daughter's earliest words was "flower." Well, it sounded more like "flaa," but we knew what she meant. I enjoy gardening and plants, so I have two flower beds in front of the house. I've made it a point to show her the flowers and teach her to touch them gently, which she does most of the time. As she's gotten older, she likes to point out flowers, and very dramatically sniffs them. And she knows the watering can is for the flowers and tries to help (although it's best if the can is empty when we're watering plants inside the house). Caring for flowers may seem like a small thing, but I view it as a large step toward raising my daughter to love the environment and do her part to protect the world around her. It's hard enough for adults to grasp concepts like global warming, carbon footprint, greenhouse gases, and alternative fuels. But it's easy for all of us to recognize something beautiful and want to keep it that way. Aside from stopping to smell the "flaas," here are a few other ways to help your children appreciate nature:

  • Pick up trash. When you're out walking or playing in the park, pick up discarded food wrappers and soda bottles. Talk about why littering hurts wildlife and its other effects on the environment, i.e., ducks at the local pond might eat something they shouldn't.
  • Visit the local farmers market. These trips give you a chance to discuss how food makes its way to the dining room table and why we need to protect our environment so the fruits and vegetables can grow.
  • Explore your surroundings. No matter where you live, you can enjoy a local park, a beach, a mountain forest, or the sunset over the city skyline. The more time your children spend outdoors, the more their interest in the environment will grow.

Consider all of this a kind of hands-on learning experience for the whole family. You just might find your own green tendencies growing stronger.