Earth Day is celebrated every year on April 22 (although some communities opt for connecting the day to the first day of Spring). On this day, kids can plant a tree, learn about endangered wildlife, or even walk to school rather than riding in a car. That's all very fine and good, but it's not enough. No longer is it the opinions of a select few that Mother Earth is hurting at a rate quicker than we ever thought; evidence clearly shows that everyone had better develop an environmental social conscience and start making changes...today...if we want a livable Earth in the future.
While preschoolers and early elementary students are indeed too young to understand details and ramifications of a gigantic ice shelf crumbling in Antarctica, they are not too young to become environmentally aware. That awareness starts with both their families and their childcare providers working in partnership for young kids to do their part in helping to preserve the planet.
Even toddlers can learn the basics of recycling, not using "smelly" chemicals on things, and why planting trees and plants to replace ones that are taken is very important. A kid old enough to throw trash away is old enough to learn to sort paper from plastic (with adult supervision at first)and to turn off lights when not in a room. Kids who are a little older can also help with community trash pickup days (have them wear gloves at the very minimum), learn how to compost and how to save water.
Creative early educators and elementary school teachers often use the Earth Day events as a way to jump-start environmental consciousness with kids in their care. As kids learn about ways to conserve, they often become environmental zealots amongst their friends and with family members. Oftentimes, involved parents often spur environmental solutions with care providers, coaches, and other adults who interact and supervise kids, thus having an opportunity to role model responsible behaviors.
Teaching kids to be environmentally responsible is easy. Here are 8 ways for raising children to become environmental super heroes! Keep in mind that even asking your kid to color on both sides of a piece of paper is a small step in the right direction!