How to get kids to care about the environment


How do we get kids to care about the environment?
 
How do we get kids to care about the environment, and understand the concept of carbon footprints so they grow up to consider environmental stewardship a normal way of life?
 
We can teach children to turn out the lights and recycle and we can teach them about global warming, but if they haven’t developed a connection with the earth, it turns out they’ll remain detached from nature and will be less likely to truly understand their role in the health of the planet.
How do we get them connected with nature? Send them outside to play.


Studies show that kids who play outside are more likely to care about the environment when they’re adults. They develop a love of nature and empathy for the earth, and that prepares them well for environmental stewardship.

It isn’t just the environment that will benefit from kids spending more time outside. According to research published by the New Zealand Department of Conservation, getting kids into nature can have mental, physical, cognitive and emotional benefits.

The benefits of more time in nature:

  • Increased self-esteem and resilience against stress and adversity
  • Improved concentration, learning, creativity, cognitive development, cooperation, flexibility and self-awareness.
  • Kids who spend time in nature are physically healthier.  

Getting outside more benefits adults in all the same ways as it does children.

However, getting kids outside more often is more complicated than it may seem. The more kids have become connected to technology the more disconnected they have become to nature. North American kids, on average, get six hours of screen time each day and 70 percent spend an hour or less outside each day, and most of that time is spent getting from one place to another. 

How to get your kids outside more:

  • The David Suzuki Foundation aims to change that. For the third year in a row the Foundation has launched its 30x30 campaign, challenging Canadians to spend 30 minutes outside every day during the month of May. Their goal is to get us all more connected with nature and the benefits of simply being outside.
  • Once you’re registered you’ll receive daily tips on how to add green time to busy routines throughout the month of May.
  • If you need help getting your kids outside more connecting with nature consider summer camp. Camp Glenburn on the Kingston Peninsula (run by the Saint John YMCA) is famous for immersing campers in nature and cultivating environmental stewardship. The camp offers a range of programs for kids aged 7-16, with a focus on reconnecting campers with the wild around them. Glenburn offers two, five and 12 night camps and this year is also offering a week-long day camp (including transportation).
  • You can connect kids with nature in your own back yard too. Plant a few vegetables or butterfly-friendly flowers, cultivate awareness of nature by observing birds and the progress of the seasons, go camping on the back lawn.

Research proves that the more time kids and adults spend outside the healthier, happier, more focused, creative and generous we’ll be, and that’s good for us and the planet.

 

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