How To Teach Small Children About The Environment With An Experience-Based Approach
Environmental education is not a subject that should only be restricted to the classroom and nurturing an interest and respect for nature in the minds of little children is a process that should begin even before they start going to school. Unfortunately, due to our cities having transformed into concrete jungles and the popularity of recreational activities that involve gadgets, our children are hardly ever exposed to the various elements of nature, which has reduced the topic of environment conservation to a textbook subject. Children learn way more from experiences than they do from a classroom-based approach, which is why encouraging them to explore the environment is essential to bring them closer to nature. Here are some environmental education ideas that will help you in doing so.
1. Start With Simple Experiences – Instead of overloading your child with too much information, make their initial interactions with nature fairly simple. These simple experiences could include observing a tree in the backyard, collecting its leaves, and watching the birds that live in the tree. Once your child becomes familiarised with these basic concepts then gradually progress towards more stimulating experiences such as a visit to a forest reserve.
2. Regular Outdoor Experiences – Occasional visits to parks and nature reserves will not be able to leave a lasting curiosity for nature in the young minds of children. You need to take them on nature walks and excursions to parks on an almost daily basis to lay an early foundation for a lifelong passion for the environment. Add educational elements to your backyard such as bird feeders, gardening tools, and windsocks that will allow your child to further investigate the different aspects of nature.
3. Focus On Experiences, Not Lessons – Instead of behaving like a teacher in the park or playground, allow your children to explore nature on their own. Sensory experiences such as touching the grass, feeling the droplets of dew, and discovering the moist texture of wet mud will help the kid learn and retain much more than a planned tour of the park or a lecture on the trees in the woods. So allow your kids to be explorers and give them the freedom to discover the different faces of nature on their own.
4. Demonstrate An Interest In Nature – In order to encourage your children to learn more about the environment, you too will have to exhibit a curiosity regarding nature. Practise what you preach and show your excitement on spotting a bird or discovering a new kind of tree. Children tend to mimic the behaviour of the adults around them so you will have to show a passion for the environment to kindle the same in your children.
5. Be Role Models For Instilling Respect For Nature – Instead of talking to children about the ways of protecting the planet, demonstrate the same and become a role model for your kids. Your simple actions such as recycling paper, using cloth bags instead of polythene bags, saving water whenever possible etc can encourage your children to become used to an environment-friendly lifestyle at a tender age and these wonderful habits will stay with them throughout their lives.
6. A Sense Of Comfort and Familiarity – The outdoors should not seem like an alien environment to your children and to familiarize them with nature, you need to provide them with regular positive experiences in a natural setting. Once the children become accustomed to being surrounded by nature, they will develop a deeper connection with the environment and will be more interested in learning about environmental conservation.
These environment education ideas will allow your child to build a powerful bond with nature at a very young age. We need to make the younger generation aware of the ways to protect and preserve our planet and the sooner we start, the better. So use these tips to make your child a nature lover even before he or she starts school.
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