Starting environmental education for kids at the right age will help them understand that the fate of the environment will be in their hands. They will be the following generation who will live in the world. Simply put, they need to learn how to take care of the environment at an early age.
Teaching the little ones at a young age will help them develop a habit, influence their same-age peers, and carry the habit and knowledge over as they grow older. You do not have to mold them to become the next generation’s counterpart of Sweden’s young environmental activist Greta Thunberg.
When does environmental education start?
A child of primary school age is in a crucial stage of behavioural, social, and self-development. They are put in an environment along with their peers—trying to learn as much as they can. It is the stage where they become more aware—at least in their own sense—of what they aspire to become when they grow older.
They take ideas from adults around them. These adults are their parents, teachers, family friends, and even the mailman they meet whenever their mail arrives. Children can take lessons—both good and bad—from anyone around them. They can even be influenced by individuals their own age.
The abovementioned reasons are why it is ideal to start giving children awareness as soon as they realise more about what they want to be. This stage is a good chance to make them aware of their role in taking care of the environment.
The beginning of their environmental awareness—no matter how simple their contributions are—will be the hallmark of how they will treat and care for the planet, they will spend the rest of their lives in.
What methods can be used?
Environmental education is a crucial part of educating children. Aside from language, numbers, and basic science, environmental education teaches them what they need to know about the environment and how they can preserve it.
At first, it may be a complicated task to teach them that things they do that are as simple as throwing a candy wrapper improperly can affect the environment for hundreds of years. However, curating a method of imparting knowledge to children based on their age and level of understanding should be heavily considered.
They should not be taught terms that are beyond their young comprehension. Teaching them about caring for the environment should not only be confined to the four corners of the classroom, where they are surrounded by nothing but chairs, tables, classroom storage boxes, and boards.
The best way to teach them how to care for the environment is to show them an example. Bringing them to the playground or a nearby park and teaching them about the things they can see, hear, and touch in the environment.
While outdoors, you can teach them about air pollution, energy consumption, recycling, proper water usage, and how to dispose of their garbage properly. Given that these things should be taught to them at home, teachers should still impart knowledge.
They have authority over these children. When they tell them something, they are wired to listen to them because they are teachers.
How can you teach them effectively?
Learning for Action (LFA) found that most environmental education programs geared towards primary-school-age children fail. According to their findings, the failure can be attributed to the lack of discussion, example-setting length, and delivery. It is too simple that kids fail to perceive the environmental essence of what they are being taught.
The weight of the environmental education modules is not heavy enough to make an impact on children. LFA found that the solution to the problem is to teach the kids for long periods about the subject. The teaching session should be filled with impactful methods of delivery to make an impression.
Connection to other subjects
Integrating environmental education modules with other things children are taught in school accelerates progress. Mixing environmental education with subjects such as science and language can help them become more aware of the topic without spending too much time dwelling on it.
This also includes physical education classes spent outdoors. We have mentioned before that setting the best example required to make them understand the importance of taking care of the environment is shown outdoors.
Letting children know that caring for the environment will benefit them in the long run. Doing so will keep the knowledge and values within them. The importance of energy conservation, recycling, and water conservation should highlight the importance of environmental awareness.