We want to raise children who are compassionate, and who care about other people and even their environment. “Children actually have a very big heart,” says grade school science teacher Tracy San Jose, who leads her school’s eco-awareness club, Green Warriors. “When you explain to them that the fish get sick because of the pollution we throw in our ocean, or that deforestation displaces entire communities of animals, they feel they want to do something.”
The challenge is how to nurture our children’s environmental awareness, and teach habits and attitudes that will help them make a difference – even at a very early age.
Set a good example
As they say, “Values are caught not taught.” Children see and copy what we do every day. Implement household routines like segregating garbage, and rules that help conserve water and electricity (ex: turn off the lights when you leave the room, don’t leave the water running when you brush your teeth). Explain in simple words why these little habits matter.
Segregate and donate
Mommy Lisa Reyes keeps three different colored waste baskets in the kitchen: for plastics and other recyclables (bottles, paper, cardboard) that you can sell or repurpose, non-biodegradable waste, and biodegradable or wet garbage.
“I taught my young kids where to throw their trash (it even teaches them sorting skills!) I even trained them to rinse the bottles or plastic waste so that they’re clean of any food debris before they’re thrown away. Then once a week, we give our plastic bottles and old cardboard or papers to the neighborhood mambobote.”
Practice zero waste
Bring your own tumblers and utensils when you eat out, and don’t use plastic straws. Always bring an eco-bag with you. “My child and I even had an eco-bag making craft project. I sewed thick canvas bags which decorated with fabric paint. She even made some for her grandparents and aunts as Christmas presents,” says mommy Heny Lorenzo.
Join environmental campaigns
There are many online advocacies or community projects where concerned citizens can sign up to clean up a neighborhood, plant trees, or recycle. Look for one near you that your family can join or support.
If you can’t find a campaign, think of activities you can do at home that will help children feel that they are doing something. For example, you can build a bird-feeder for the birds in your neighborhood, which your child can refill each morning. Give your child simple chores and pay her a small allowance, which she can then save and donate to an environmental fund of her choice.
Take Nature trips
Expose children to the beauty of the world. Nature trips, beaches, mountains can help them connect to Nature and understand their roles as stewards of God’s creation. That’s why traveling with family can be a good investment – not only do you bond, but this can be a valuable learning experience.
Watch Nature shows
There are many interesting documentaries that teach children about wildlife and different eco-systems. These educational shows often have vivid footage of animals in their natural habitat, and explain in very child-friendly ways. Just like Nature trips, these shows can help children care more about the world around them.
Talk about environmental issues at home
As your children grow older, they may take up concepts like the Ozone layer, eco-systems and habitats, global warming and climate change in school. Link them to real, every day experiences or the latest news. For example, if they complain that it is a hot day, talk about how climate change is intensifying the summer heat and causing water shortages. Deepen the discussion by asking questions that let them think about how these problems can affect other Filipinos. “Can you imagine what farmers are going through? What will happen to them if they don’t have water?”
It starts with us!
Parents, let us be intentional about raising kids who care about the environment. Let’s lead by example, teach them the right habits, answer their questions about their surroundings, and expose them to experiences and shows that inspire them to take care of the Earth. Raising compassionate kids who care about others and the world can be our greatest contribution to this world – our world.
What are your ways of raising your children to be more eco-conscious? Leave your ideas and tips in the comments section.
About The Writer
Mommy Gracie is a hands-on mom, small business owner and a mom blogger. She is a frugal and intentional living advocate, and believes that there’s joy in simplicity. She is also the founder of Tipid Living. Discover her tipid tips and other mommy hacks at www.tipidmommy.com.