Raising Future Environmental Stewards
It is a particularly tough time to be a parent. We face the unique challenge of raising ecologically responsible children in order to save the planet from the brutal impacts of climate change. Like previous generations, some of us strive to leave a world behind for our children with as many or more opportunities as we inherited from others. But unless we can collectively change the course, our children will only inherit a monumental crisis. So where do we start when the future looks so dark? How and where do we invest our time and effort without falling into despair? Nature is a good place to start. We can't protect our children's future without loving and protecting the place where we come from first and teaching our children to do the same.
We can add environmental lessons to children's busy schedules, or terrify them by revealing to their innocent minds some of the devastating effects our carbon gushing habits have done. Sorry kid, now you must fix this. David Sobel, the author of Beyond Ecophobia, suggests that we rethink how we approach environmental education in young children. Studies show that allowing children to discover their love for nature by directly interacting with it could lead to environmentally responsible behavior in adult life. An individual's affinity to take care of the planet is less about education and knowledge and more about environmental experiences. I can attest to that! Alarming children about mass extinction and allowing them to carry the burden of fixing our climate crisis could simply lead to feelings of despair.
As parents and great influencers in our children’s lives, the best gift we can give them is to let them experience nature first hand. Let them feel with their own hands the richness of the soil, watch a seedling sprout from beneath and catch some raindrops with their mouth. I believe that this is approach will help our little ones grow into future stewards of the land and they'll in turn, guide their own children when the time comes.
The Nature of Americans National Report reported that more than half of adults reported spending five hours or less in nature each week.
Watch the journalist and advocate for children in the natural world, Richard Louv, talk about the consequences of maintaining children sedentary within the closed school and domestic environments. Deprived of contact with nature and its innate benefits for physical and psychological health children can present with symptoms that he calls Nature Deficit Disorder.
A study published by the American Journal of Public Health showed that children who spend quality time outdoors enjoying the natural world showed a significant reduction in the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD).
Out of the Box
How we plan and build green spaces around urban environments have a
profound impact on our children.
Learn about Simon Nicholson's "Loose Parts" theory and more about what can parents do to improve access to nature for our children here.
Food and Nature
A family or school garden offers much more than a means for children to learn how to grow food or where it comes from.
Discover some of the other benefits such increased intake of fruits and vegetables (Parents of picky eaters, take note!)