|“We Care About the World,” by the big explorer|
I’ve never had a conversation with my kids about global warming, the impact of our carbon footprint or the plight of endangered wild animals. And yet they seem to understand that caring for the planet we live on – and its wild creatures – is just something we do.
I think that’s at least in part because we spend a lot of time outside connecting with the world around us. It’s part of who they are.
I believe that early connections with nature help kids form the bonds that will create caring, concerned and committed stewards for the planet in the future. At least, I’m hoping it does.
When it comes to raising kids who care about the planet, there’s no magic bullet. Like much of parenting, it’s hard work. But well worth the effort in my book.
Here are a few things we do to help foster a love of all things Earth in our explorers:
Spend time in nature.
The more, the better. And not just because it’s good for your mind, health and body. The more kids spend time outside connecting with nature, the more they grow to want time outdoors. That’s something they’ll be willing to protect as adults.
|Another masterpiece by the big explorer|
Start ’em when they’re young.
Kids are never too young to start a love affair with the planet. Start simple with age-appropriate activities that are enjoyable for the entire family. And remember to focus on the journey, not the destination.
|My favorite hiking buddies are both under 7!|
Grow some food.
Every kid deserves to know where food comes from (no, it’s not McDonald’s). What better way to teach this then by planting your own garden? It doesn’t matter if you don’t know how; your kids will be willing to learn the ropes with you. Trust me.
|The little explorer enthralled by our tomatoes|
Lead by example.
Not necessarily by doing more to save the planet, but by enjoying what you already do. If you spend time outside with your kids, have fun! Be positive and excited about whatever changes you might make in your lifestyle to better support the planet.
Share your favorite places in nature.
These days, I’m not sure who looks forward to our summer trips to our cabin in Yosemite more – me or the boys! Whenever we travel, nature is on our agenda. The more wild places we can explore, the better.
|The big explorer’s first trip to Yosemite at 9 months|
Take advantage of teachable moments.
Parenting is all about teachable moments. They allow us to turn an otherwise everyday event into a lesson. See a piece of litter in your neighborhood? Don’t just pick it up – talk about what might happen if you don’t.
Raising a kid who cares about the planet starts with you. No time like the present to head outside and get started.