When I grew up plastic bottles and containers were not wide spread. Glass bottles and jars along with boxes were mainly used as containers for items we would pick up at the store. You did not hear a lot about recycling then but even during these years my parents were always teaching us kids to be conscientious about such things.
The main way my folks encouraged us to take care of our environment was just ingraining it into us from the time we were small. Mom was always pointing out different plants and trees and giving us the names. She shared what the different types of plants were and the care they needed. She was also pointing out trash to us and would go out of her way to pick it up. Before anti-littering laws, signs, and commercials there was mom. She was adamant that we not litter but beyond that she would see a parking lot or a beach with litter and we just knew we were going to be cleaning it up. That was just how we were raised.
This is what I see as the main way to encourage our children to save our environment. Teach them from the time they are small, make it a habit just like brushing your teeth. If you start when they are tiny they will not even know that they are doing anything different than anyone else in the world. That is the way it was for me. I just thought everyone cared about the world we lived in. As I got older I was shocked to find out that that indeed was not the case.
When I was growing up we had bottles of soda pop and not cans. My brothers and I loved to find bottles because that meant a nickel back at the corner store and do you know how much candy you could get for a nickel then? A lot! It was quite an incentive to pick up bottles for us. If you have older children and you have the time to take them to a recycling center for aluminum cans that would be a good incentive for them to start saving their cans or picking them up when they spotted one. A large sack of cans can bring in a few dollars and a couple of sacks may make it worth their while. Even though monetary gains should not be the primary reason for saving the environment it could be a fun trip to see the recycling centers. Boys are particularly drawn to these places since there is heavy equipment and huge magnets and lots of noise. My son loved going with his dad.
My dad also instilled conserving electricity and water by constantly reminding us that we did not own the electric company and if we wanted any to be left for when we got older we should be wise in its use! Dad was always going around the house turning off the lights and watching how long the water was running. When we watered the plants or garden he actually timed it. When we bathed we were allowed only enough water to bath. No worries, we were still clean.
Mom was always teaching us about plants and gardens. She would let each one of us pick what we would like to plant in the garden each time she planted. I always tried my hand at corn and tomatoes without much success. I learned over the years how to have a successful garden by trial and error with mom as my coach. It was great fun to plant something that you could later eat! This is a great way to get your kids interested in gardening and eating their veggies! I looked forward to the garden each time in the hopes that my next crop would be the best. My brothers were always out to grow watermelons because they grew so fast and got so big. No matter what your child wants to grow it will be a wonderful experience and a way to give back to the earth. My daughter loved peaches and pears so she wanted to plant a tree. It took a few years but we finally got fruit and she was thrilled!
We also made good use of everything in our yard when I was growing up. When we raked the leaves we would use them as mulch on our plants. Mom taught us about the bugs that helped a garden like the lady bugs and told us how to get rid of the bugs that hurt the garden. Mom always used natural pesticides. She had learned homemade pesticides from her mother and grandmother before her. All these things were then passed on to us and in turn we are passing them on to our children.
We always had quite a few animals as we were growing up as well and were taught to take care of our animals. We fed them, bathed them, and made sure they were always healthy. We had a pigeon coop full of pigeons, a kennel full of beagles, an English bull dog in the house and a pet canary. There was never a dull moment at our house. It is good for children to learn how to care for animals as well as other human beings. Children need to learn to take care of other people’s needs as well as their own and think about the plants and animals as well.
As I said earlier my mom and dad both were very much anti liter motivated. If they saw anyone littering they would make sure and point it out and let us know how wrong it was. If we ran across a parking lot or beach front that was littered we would start picking up trash. There is no way that mom or dad would walk through a grocery store parking lot and step over a piece of trash. I believe that our children learn not only from what we teach them but what they see us doing as well. You are the main example in your children’s lives and what you do does make an impression.
My dad loved to fish and we used to take many trips out on the lakes fishing. He taught us all about fish and about keeping our lakes clean so the fish would thrive. I also had an uncle who loved to hunt and fish and he taught us so much about the forest and the lakes and how to keep them clean and healthy for the next generations. I guess what I am trying to say is that you should surround your children with those of a like mind in regards to the environment. It is important to teach your children anything and everything you can about the environment from the time they are very small. This will ensure that you are raising an environmentally conscious individual who will keep it going from one generation to another. Make an impact on your child and they will make an impact on everyone they meet. Let us pass it on!
Often gardening is used as an escape for those who enjoy the solitude of the work. The sense of accomplishment, however, may be one year children can benefit from. An added benefit is that children may be more likely to add foods they’ve had a hand in tending to their diets.
Children who have been involved in growing herbs and vegetables are highly likely to give them at least one chance. The pride of the accomplishment makes them want to eat their “work”.
The key to reaping the benefits of gardening on your children’s part is to make the process fun and, ironically, this involves them learning.
Start by involving them in the planning. Choose the area together and allow them to choose what to grow.
Make the garden a lively adventure. For example, reward your kids for clearing the area of weeds. Also, adds plants that can spark their hunger for learning. This can be done using the mimosa pudica, a plant that reacts, when touched, by folding its leaves and moving away.
Allow children to do work such as watering and digging. When the garden produces they’ll then associate the bounty with their efforts. Make the work a bit easier by using pots or containers.
A mistake parents can often make is not allowing children to take part in the entire process or gardening. But, think of all the life lessons you can share with them, even (or perhaps especially) the failures.
When some plants fail don’t try to hide the failure by replacing the veggies with thriving ones. These failures are a good way for kids learn that the process isn’t always a success, but this isn’t a reason to give up.
Gardening teaches children where food comes from, but it also teaches lessons in responsibility, nurture, nature, and builds self-esteem.
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