When did my own concern for the environment begin? I remember it clearly. It was over 50 years ago and I was sitting at a small desk in a classroom. My teacher walked over to the coat closet and pulled out her jacket. She reached into her pocket to show us the trash she had stored in there - things like candy and gum wrappers. She then passionately told us that it was better to keep your trash until you could properly dispose of it. As this was in the early days of a "Do Not Litter" campaign, her words were powerful and meaningful. Since that day so long ago, I have remained committed to picking up trash.
This little anecdote shows us how words paired with deeds and actions can be influential. It was my teacher's walk to the closet and her emptying of pockets that made a difference to me. When we want to encourage our children to care for Mother Earth, we can be the models.
My dad always stopped for turtles on the road. He made sure no other traffic could hurt them as they crossed from one side to another. It will not surprise you to learn that I have carried on this 'tradition." Recently 15 minutes was added to an errand as I stopped for 3 turtles crawling across the roadway.
Now, I share this with children and show my pictures. I am confident that this modeling will have an impact on their love for nature.
There are other ways we can encourage care for nature, too. I recently was at a gathering where a very young child began to pull the bark from a birch tree. His mother walked over and kindly explained that the bark was like the tree's skin. The tree needed the bark to protect itself. Later, I heard this same child explaining it to a little girl. The two nodded and agreed the tree needed its bark.
There are so many ways we adults can be influential in developing a love for the environment in young children. Sometimes children are afraid of animals, like bats. We can sit down and read a book to them about the many ways bats help the world a better place for us by eating insects. Many children are afraid of bees. Discuss with them the importance of bees to plant life on Earth.
We can make a big difference in the way children view their role on Planet Earth! Pair your words with actions, photos, and books.
NAEYC - 2.G.03.
Head Start - XI.B.1.