5 Reasons Why it’s Important to Teach Kids About Environmental Issues + Problems & Solutions + Podcast

Environment. Such a scary word, right? Why do we feel existential dread whenever we hear someone mention the word ‘environment’? The answer is very simple – we know how polluted nature is, so mentioning this word makes us feel something I like to call ‘global guilt’, and some people even feel environmental anxiety.

Overcoming the ‘global guilt’ and environmental anxiety can happen in one way only – we need to reconnect with nature. It sounds very straightforward, but where and how do we start? Keep reading this article to find out how and why should you and your child reconnect with nature online or face-to-face.

This article is originally published on Intrepid English.

1. Discuss nature, not environmental disasters

  • Problem: There is a lot of natural devastation, ecosystem destruction and many other terrible things happening to the environment everyday.
  • Solution: Pay attention to local things, things that your child can participate in and things you have impact on. That might be something small like cleaning the park, or something big, like hosting a competition, or a presentation regarding animal and plant species found locally.
  • Why is this solution beneficial for your child? Your child will have a chance to explore, investigate, and learn new things, while also becoming a small Earthling, aka the planet protector. Involving your child in local activities will help build its confidence and the desire to make a change in adulthood.

2. Grab every possible opportunity to interact with nature

  • Problem: There are not enough green spaces or natural ecosystems in the city so we cannot connect with the environment easily.
  • Solution: Explore any trees on the street while passing by, name them, take photos so you can search and identify them online or use an identification app, explore flowers you see in people’s yards, be nice to the little creepy crawlies, make an insect hotel or a bee bath on your window – the possibilities are endless.
  • Why is this solution beneficial for your child? This will help your child realise that nature is all around us and that we are cohabiting the planet along with plants and animals, which ultimately makes us equal.

3. Make small green changes everyday

  • Problem: You have no time to make sure all of your products are ‘green’. There is a lot of plastic hanging out in your house.
  • Solution: Have your child help you with the grocery list. Your child can be a low-waste explorer or an eco-warrior in the store, looking for product alternatives that are not packaged with plastic. You can also make a chart to track your consumer habits.
  • Why is this solution beneficial for your child? These activities enhance many 21st century skills, starting from critical thinking, creativity, environmental activism to communication, problem-solving, and collaboration.

4. Outdoor learning is the way to go

  • Problem: We talk about nature without even talking about nature. How is that even possible, you might ask? We are so distanced from the actual natural world, and we are accustomed to living our lives in large, cement cities where our only touch with nature is a piece of grass or a small park.
  • Solution: Practice outdoor learning as much as you can. Don’t be afraid to get dirty, and let the child explore a local pond, forest, swamp, or a beach, and get to know some natural ecosystems first hand.
  • Why is this solution beneficial for your child? Your child will explore the natural world through the 4 senses and also have an amazing sensory experience (touching different textures, exploring the sounds of nature, and more).

5. Free online English language workshops for your child with an environmental twist

  • Problem: You want to your child to learn scientific facts about the environment in an engaging way, developmentally appropriate for a child, but you are not a content expert.
  • Solution: Join elloquent.org and attend some free workshops that happen every month. At least two themes will be related to the environment and this program will always stay free.
  • Why is this solution beneficial for your child? Your child will have a chance to meet children from all over the world from Poland, Nigeria, and Turkey to Spain, the UK, Mongolia, and more! The workshops gather around children from all over the world and this is why we get different perspectives and ideas!

Educating young children about the environment: a chat with Intrepid English

For today’s episode we have a very special guest! Lorraine sat down with her friend and fellow educator, Milica, otherwise known as Alice in Methodologyland, who is particularly passionate about the environment. 🌎We wanted to talk about her work educating young children about the environment, some of the problems we’re facing, and solutions. She explained why it’s so important to explain environmental issues to children in a way that doesn’t overwhelm them. If you have kids, or if you are an educator, or passionate about the environment, you’re really going to enjoy today’s chat.

Find out more about Intrepid English by clicking on this link.

To conclude

By following these 5 solutions, you can easily improve your family life and reconnect with nature in a way that will bring you serenity, without causing existential dread in children. The ultimate goal is to educate your child in a developmentally appropriate way and ensure that our children are ready to be change-makers one day.

How do you approach the topic of the environment in your classroom? Write in the comments or via the contact page, I would love to hear your opinion!

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About Alice Glass

Alice is a 29 years old English teacher with a B.Ed and M.Ed. with a double minor (English teaching methodology for young learners and Serbian language teaching methodology). She is also a young but published academic researcher, materials designer, and an online ESL teacher for children in her own school, ELLoquent. She is passionate about teaching young learners, environmental education, storytelling & drama, and distance learning. Last but not least, she is a mother of an autistic toddler with SPD.

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