Growing Up Green
Teaching toddlers earth-friendly habits is easier than you think
Simple Things Toddlers Can Do
Parents are usually amazed at what younger children are able to grasp when it comes to caring for the environment. Teaching them about the world around them can be as simple as engaging them in organic gardening. That’s one way that master gardener Vikki Koss of Friendswood, Texas, involves her 2-year-old daughter in learning about the environment.
“First, try to grow something that your toddler is interested in,” Koss says. “My 2-year-old loves flowers. Her favorite thing to do when we are out working in our yard is to go to each different kind of flower and pick them and bring a bunch to me.”
Another option for getting kids familiar with the environment is to have them plant, and help care for, some of their favorite fruits and vegetables. Not only will they gain an understanding of how things grow, but they will also learn how respecting the land we live on helps to produce the things we enjoy.
“While out in your organic garden, there are endless opportunities to talk to them about our environment and the importance of taking care of our earth,” Koss says.
4 Earth-Friendly Activities
There are many simple things that parents can do on a regular basis to encourage toddlers to adopt environmentally friendly living habits, including the following:
- Saving water: As toddlers, they are just beginning to develop dental habits. Shutting off the water while brushing teeth saves a great deal of water over the course of a year. At this age, toddlers can also understand the concept of shutting off the water when they finish washing their hands, and not wasting water needlessly in other instances.
- Recycling: Most city recycling programs require some degree of item-sorting before curb pick-up. Toddlers are prime candidates for sorting what goes into the paper, plastic, and other bins. They will also begin learning what types of materials get recycled rather than trashed. Children can also learn to recycle their toys and clothing when they are done with them by donating them or selling them in a garage sale.
- Reusing: There are several things that toddlers can learn when it comes to reusing materials. Some possible options include using cloth napkins instead of paper ones, learning to use a cloth dish towel or sponge to clean up messes instead of paper toweling, using reusable utensils and dishes instead of disposables, and always using cloth grocery bags at stores instead of plastic or paper ones. Even before putting things like paper into the recycle bin, toddlers can learn that unused sides can be used for painting or drawing projects, and magazines and newspapers can be handy for collages and other art projects.
- Reduce: Families can help their toddlers with environmentally friendly efforts by avoiding purchases of single-item products, such as juice boxes. It’s much easier on the environment to purchase larger containers and pour drinks or snacks into reusable snack or drink cups.
“Helping toddlers learn to care for the environment plants seeds for conscientious living and responsible action that can keep them, their family and every living thing on the planet safe and healthy,” says Diane Flynn Keith, author of Carschooling: Over 350 Entertaining Games & Activities to Turn Travel Time into Learning Time. “If parents model green living for their little ones, the children will naturally learn to do things that cause a smaller carbon footprint on the planet.”
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