Really, nothing about raising kids is easy.
I so know this to be true. I think I’m pretty honest about my own on-the-job struggles, and most people I talk to are pretty open about how difficult a gig this parenting thing is.
But I think that raising three earth-friendly kids has been relatively easy.
Granted, my kiddos may scream at the occasional spider or cry when snow fills their boots or when the temperature reaches 95 degrees. And, okay, so they’ve never been camping. They have yet to sleep under the stars. They really like umbrellas.
But I do believe they’re earth-friendly, outdoor-loving kiddos. And there wasn’t a whole lot to it.
Earth Day is right around the corner, so what better time to share 5 easy ways to raise earth-friendly kids?
Here’s the skinny. . .
- 5 Easy Ways to Raise Earth-Friendly Kids:
In no particular order, all equal in importance. . .
1. Teach Them to Look, Listen, Feel.
Teach Them to Look, Listen, Feel.
Teach them to really look at the world around them. Teach them to listen to the world around them, to feel the world around them. Encourage them to smell and taste the world around them–if they can and if it’s safe. Show them how to love the earth with all of their senses.
Let them play in the dirt, tiptoe through sand, and run around without a coat on. Let them play with water. Pick a flower. Plant a flower. Govern the garden.
Teach them to invent smart, creative ways of reusing and recycling items that they might have otherwise tossed away without a thought.
2. Teach Them to be Still.
Teach Them to be Still.
Amazing things happen when you lift a rock and sit still, watching the life move underneath. It’s an incredible feeling–the tiny touch of a butterfly on a teeny finger, the warmth of a pooch sleeping on your lap, that first time you watch the clouds move through the sky.
We move so much–so quickly sometimes–during the day. Making a deliberate, conscious effort to be still with our kids, especially when we’re outdoors, is more important than we realize. For them and for us.
3. Teach Them to be Curious.
Teach Them to be Curious
When kids are little, parents need to do a lot of thinking out loud. Ask yourself questions you may even know the answers to, just so they hear you thinking about what you see, wondering about nature, asking questions about the world:
- Why does my finger turn yellow when I touch the middle of this flower?
- I wonder why the caterpillar is moving toward the sun instead of into the grass? What type of caterpillar is this, anyway?
- How long will it take for the ice cube to melt on the driveway?
- Can we eat the apples from this tree?
- How can the fish move so quickly?
- What will I discover in the dirt today?
- Which is bigger–my hand or this leaf? And what kind of leaf is it, anyway?
- How many colors can we find in our back yard?
- Where is the moon tonight?
And when they’re old enough to ask their own questions, even when you know the answer, encourage them to follow-up, research, and learn more. Then celebrate and share what they’ve learned.
4. Teach Them About the Big & the Small.
Teach Them About the Big
Teach kids about the big things–the really big things–that are sometimes hard to discuss. In the best, most age-appropriate way possible, talk about the earthquakes, the tornadoes, the tsunamis. Read the information together, look at the photos, and answer their questions. Talk about where you are in relation to the event, where they are on the map.
Knowing the earth’s power is just as important as knowing its beauty and grace. Even for the little guys. It’s sometimes scary, but it’s humbling.
Teach Them About the Small
Teach kids about the small things–the everyday things–that we sometimes forget to discuss. The weather, the seasons, the cycles. Rocks, leaves, grass.
Watch just one tree in your yard, and watch it all year long, every day. Give it a name, celebrate its changes. Give it to your kids, let it become a part of their every day.
5. Teach Them to be Thankful.
Teach Them to be Thankful
For the clear, cloud-free sky one day, for the rain that washes away the sneezy, sticky, yellow pollen the next. For mud, for sand, for moss.
For the grass that grows in your yard–perfect for a picnic, for the tulips that surprise you in the spring, the sunflowers in the summer, the mums in the fall.
For rainbows, for the changing leaves, for the butterfly bushes, for the bullfrog by your window. For the breeze, the fog, the heat, the hail.
For that one, perfect, flawless lily; for the bent and twisted tree root that always catches your foot.
For lightening bugs. Morning glories.
For four-leaf clovers.
When we’re thankful, we’re more likely to really appreciate something. And when we appreciate something, we’re more likely to work toward keeping it clean, safe, and happy.
Teaching kids to be a part of the world around them, to really notice it and participate in its well-being, to be aware of both the big and small, and to be thankful for its greatness may sound like a crazy-huge task, but it’s not.
It’s five things. Five little things that if we all start doing now, I’m betting we’ll all be better for it. Mother Earth included.
Happy, happy Earth Day!
Leticia- Tech Savvy Mama
I absolutely love this post! What gorgeous images for each of the 5 ways to raise Earth friendly kids!
thanks so much, Leticia!! xoxo
What a great article…I love Nature (nurture) and have instilled this love in my children, and their children…
Deborah! Thank YOU!! Means so very much–and I can only hope to do the same with my children’s little ones down the road! Be well!!
Marnie @ Carrots are Orange
I love how you included “Teach Them to Be Still”. We are constantly working on how to be present. There is a great children’s book called “What Does It Mean to Be Present?” by Rana DiOrio that I highly recommend. Also, Mindful Monkey, Happy Panda if you don’t already know that one…Cheers!
Marnie!! THANK YOU!! You have NO idea how much I appreciate the book recommendations, my friend! Going to add those to my list for this weekend!! And thanks SO very much for reading and taking the time to write–I know how busy you are, so it means a ton.
Marnie @ Carrots are Orange
PS. and the “teach them to be thankful”…love it.
Love your blog. It has so much in common with how we do things around our house. Your pretend play reminded me of the library we created at home last week. This post made me think of a post I did recently in which our exploration of nature had my toddler (not quite 2 1/2) already being curious about the connection between bees and flowers.
Jen! I’d love to check out your blog–please do stay in touch, as I think the coolest thing about blogging is how it connects people–like-minded and not! 🙂 Thanks for reading, and huge thanks for writing!!
Love this! I think another way to teach kids is to ask them to tell you what they think.. we did this at a school for an earth day video…http://youtu.be/_4uBqwuGp04
Karen! Thanks, friend–will def check it out!!
The Iowa farmers wife
This is so great Amy! Love the be still and be thankful!
THANK YOU!! Means so much that you’ve read and that you took the time to write, my friend. Many thanks!
Trisha @ Inspiration Laboratories
Amy, these are such perfect ways to teach children to appreciate the Earth. I love how you’ve organized them.
You seriously made my weekend. Thank you so much for reading, and huge thanks for taking the time to give me this kind feedback. Means more thank you know.
Corey. Thanks SO much!!