Encouraging our children to engage with wildlife and help to protect their habitats goes far beyond videos and textbooks. Helping our children to appreciate and respect wildlife has to come from real hands on experience. Here are some ideas to get you started.
If you want to grow your loved one’s interest in the environment, then you need to plant the seed – literally. Growing plants, vegetables and fruits as well as doing some general gardening can give your children some first-hand experience of their environment, eco-systems and how nature works in harmony with us when we treat it well.
Geocaching is a fun app-based game that can get your little one’s out and about exploring. Its fun for the whole family and involves hunting down hidden packages placed outdoors in public parks, fields and all kinds of places. It’s a fun, real life treasure hunt that can become very addictive. Be sure to educate your children on good habits along the way such as taking home any litter, being careful not to disturb wildlife and leaving things as you found them.
Again, an activity that you can try at home, composting is not only good for the environment but can also be a fun science experiment for the whole family. Composting at home is easy to do and can teach your family about conservation, recycling, life cycles and biology. Simply cut out the bottom of a bin so that the compost material can touch the ground and begin adding things like grass cuttings, flowers, vegetable scraps, egg shells and stale bread.
A key way to get your children interested in not only the environment but also conservation as a whole is to teach them at every opportunity. If there is a reason that you purchase something, or don’t purchase something, if there’s a reason you walk somewhere instead of drive or save something and re-use it instead of throwing it way then let them know why.
Explore the outdoors
To build a real appreciation for nature you need to get outdoors. Activities such as cycling, skiing, rock climbing, beach strolls, hiking and even simply camping at the bottom of the garden are all good ways to engage their senses and spark their imagination. If you live in the city, then take advantage of woodland, community parks and gardens.
As children learn more about the environment and the dangers it faces, they may start to become acutely aware of the problems and hurdles that are faced. ‘Why would anyone do that?’ and ‘Why isn’t anyone doing anything to stop this from happening?’ are two questions which you’re likely to hear them ask. When this happens, it can be a good opportunity to encourage them to participate in helping look for solutions whether through writing a letter to their local MP or joining local environmental protection groups. Be mindful that the state of the environment and the challenges faced can be upsetting to children and it can be useful to have some examples of positive change such as Endangered Species acts, and successful conservation attempts to point them towards in moments like these.
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