With pollution rates on the rise and climate change drastically altering our world, it’s vitally important right now for kids to learn about nature and ways to protect and save it – before it’s too late. Those who care about the future of our environment need to promote the education of climate change in schools and encourage teachers to create lessons on global warming. By doing so, our children will be more environmentally conscious and understand the consequences of climate change fully. If our kids aren’t informed about what’s at stake for the environment, how will they protect it in the future?
The history of environmental education
Since the 1960s, conservation groups and activists have touted the significance of having environmental education in our schools, from Rachel Carson in her book “Silent Spring,” to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. To determine what environmental education should entail, the Tbilisi Declaration was created in 1977. According to research from Concordia University, in 1996, “The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization created an international set of environmental education objectives,” which include awareness, knowledge and participation.
By teaching environmental awareness, children are more likely to become civically engaged with their local communities later in life and be more conscious of threats to sustainability. More and more schools are adopting environmental education programs from around the world, with Israel implementing the most in its schools.
According to Medical News Today, 8 percent of schools in Israel received Green School Certification, compared to 1 percent of schools in the U.S. To qualify as a “green school,” schools have to address three areas: environmental issue teaching, pro-environment behavior development and civic participation.
The value in environmental education
Our environment is in danger right now. As the Trump administration limits restrictions on coal pollution and puts our environment at risk, it’s as important as ever for children to learn about what climate change is and how they can combat it. If politicians can’t help us – or won’t help us given their historical ties to coal companies – then maybe our kids can. We need to make sure they understand the consequences of global warming and become informed on alternative forms of energy such as wind and solar.
Reports now suggest that climate change is a public health emergency, making it that much more necessary for children to become educated on how to protect our environment. Our kids can make a difference if they’re taught how to fight against global warming and protest against environmentally destructive laws being passed. It’s unclear whether or not the next generation will care about the environment, but it’s up to parents and educators to at least try to make them care.
Ways to encourage children to care about the environment
Education in primary and high schools can certainly make a difference, but instilling environmentally conscious values at home can make an even bigger impact. There are several things you can do as a parent to help raise health-conscious and green-loving kids. Here are some tips on how to promote environmental awareness within your child’s life:
Encourage physical activity
Instead of staying put on the couch with your kids, how about going on a bike ride with them? Encouraging exercise for your child outside will not only make them healthier and stronger, but they’ll also become more aware of nature and the outdoors. If you’re biking to the park or playing sports with your child, just remember to have them protect themselves with safety gear so they aren’t at the risk of injury.
Putting recyclables such as aluminium cans and cardboard in recycling bins, soft plastics in appropriate bins, and ‘recycling’ food waste AKA composting or worm farming green waste, will help inform your child about the value in reducing waste being sent to landfill, and they’ll be more likely to continue recycling and composting later in life.
Teach lessons about food
While going for a grocery run with your kids, use this opportunity to teach them about the food system; where foods come from, how they’re grown and the remarkable people who grow them. Talk to them about GMOs and harmful synthetic chemicals in food so they’re more knowledgeable about what’s going in their bodies and will be wiser about organic alternatives.
Have a family outing as volunteers at your local community garden or food bank. This will encourage them to be more outgoing, connect with and have respect for how food is grown, become an active, engaged member of society and learn to value community and the diverse individuals in it, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, income level, social class or age.
Move to a sustainable neighborhood
Sustainable communities have proven to be the key to happiness for many families, and there are many reasons why. Sustainability within neighborhoods gives parents and their children higher food quality, a better education and closer relationships with each other.
By following these tips and encouraging your child’s school to implement environmental education into their program, your kids will become conscious of what’s around them, be aware of the impact climate change continues to have on our world and help in any way they can to mitigate its effects on people, communities and other living beings. We’re lucky to live on such a beautiful planet, and it’s our children who will need to speak out against those who want to destroy it if they want to have any hope of enjoying it in the future.