March is here - soon it will be time to get your seeds started for this year’s garden!
Many studies have shown a correlation between gardening with children and their awareness of and love for nature - key foundations for later environmental activism.
As discussed in my last post, teaching your children to love the ocean - and eventually to protect it - requires exposure. If you live near the coast, many trips to the beach over time can spark this love. If you live too far inland for frequent visits, you can still engage your children in thinking about our oceans and the great variety of creatures that live there.
Research shows a strong correlation between a person’s feelings of connectedness with nature and their ecological behavior. It makes sense: we want to protect what we love, but we’re unlikely to develop a deep love of nature without exposure to it over time.
As adults, we know that our oceans are in bad shape, with temperatures rising, plastic everywhere, fish populations depleting, and coral reefs dying. Yet we can’t raise a generation dedicated to restoring and protecting the health of oceans without sparking their love for the wonder and magic of the undersea world.
Mark your calendar - the Great Backyard Bird Count will happen this year between Friday, February 16, and Monday, February 19.
Your child can make a difference in protecting birds by helping scientists get a snapshot of bird populations.
A recent thread on a list serve I follow for educators of young children focused on regulations around bringing them outside in cold weather. In Virginia, I learned, teachers can’t bring children outdoors when temperatures fall below 40 degrees! Here in New England, we consider 40 to be downright balmy.
Children need outside play in all kinds of weather. We know that many environmentalists developed their love of nature by spending lots of time outdoors in natural settings as children. Still, access to the outdoors for extended periods of time can be limited during the winter.
To engage children with nature even during the coldest months, bring the outdoors inside.
I’m trying to tread lightly on the earth.
It’s not easy. We live in a throw-away culture that craves excess. Why have one (fill in the blank) when we can have five, or ten? Advertisements for the latest and greatest bauble bombard us moment by moment. When we tire of those baubles or they break, we dump them in landfills.
Intentionally choosing to live with less does not mean deprivation. Instead, it means fostering clarity and focus, deciding to buy only what we really need - or really love - and valuing quality over quantity.
Once when I was a child I saw an evening news story about a drought. I started thinking about what would happen if we had no access to water, and made myself so scared that for a few days it pushed out all other thoughts, and I could barely eat or sleep.
Even now, the problems with our environment seem paralyzingly big and scary in their implications for the future of our children. We face many challenges on the road to a more just, equitable, and sustainable world, but none looms larger than reversing the damage caused by climate change.
So nothing seems more important than helping our children become stewards of the earth - but how to do this without scaring them?
For children to grow up into environmentalists, they need many experiences in nature. Birding offers an easy way to get your child outside and to spark a love of the natural world.
To develop a love of nature - a prerequisite for making good decisions about the environment and wanting to preserve it - children must experience nature. This means more than watching nature shows and taking walks in the woods (although those help, too)!
If we want our children to grow up loving the natural world and making decisions that will protect it, we have to get them out into nature.
Today, play a game with your child called “What Do YouNotice?”