“Teaching Pre-Schoolers Environmentalism” by Leigh Garofalow, Green-4-U.com
As a parent of a 1 and almost 4-year-old I am constantly working on teaching them environmentalism in our everyday life. I think it is actually quite easy with not that much effort. Here are some tips on how to work environmental lessons into your preschoolers life.
Cooking: On of the best things we can do for our kids is to teach them how to eat healthy. My daughter helps me make the lunches for herself, her brother, and I every morning. She is stuck in a typical preschooler rut of wanting to eat the same thing. As she watches me give her younger brother a variety of food each day and she sees what I eat she has branched out and tried some new food that are equally if not more healthy than before.
Food shopping: My kids love the grocery store, they are devastated if I go without them particularly my daughter. I am able to ask them what they want to eat and let them pick out new things to try. I tell them what the different fruits and vegetables are when we are in the produce section and sometimes I quiz her on what things are. It is a great adventure and it has taught them both so much about food. I love the fact that they have learned so much about food and where it comes from already.
Reading: Reading to your children is one of the best ways to teach kids about anything. I love reading my kids older books there are tons of environmental lessons in these books because the characters model environmental behavior. A favorite of ours is Blueberries for Sal, it was written in 50’s but it has great environmental lessons. Sal and her mom are picking wild blueberries in a steel pail and enjoying nature. Sal’s mom is going to save the blueberries for winter when they are not in season.
Modeling behavior: Kids are paying attention to everything we do. If they see their parents living a green life they will want to do it too. My daughter thinks it is coolest thing to drink out of her big girl glass cup (her size of course) and use cloth napkins like us with dinner. Even our 1-year-old uses cloth napkins with his meals like the rest of us. This normal and will be normal to them for the rest of their lives.
Toys: Toys made from eco-friendly materials are great but getting them toys that help live a green lifestyle helps them recognize it in the real world. In my kids’ play kitchen there are stainless steel pots and pans and fruits and vegetables as food to play with. They make me fruit salad and other healthy foods to go with the cookies they made me (we make a lot of homemade cookies in this house… like I said they are impressionable).
Never underestimate what a preschooler can learn. My daughter picks up on things that I think would be over head. Talk to your kids like they would need to know the information you have it makes a lasting impression. They are paying attention even though it seems like they are not when you have to tell them 1,000 times “no you cannot have a cookie before dinner.”
Leigh Garofalow is working mom of two who hopes to make the world a greener place. She writes the blog Green-4-U.com which gives green and healthy living tips to the average person.