Vital but boring and demanding, ecology? Not at all! Respecting the environment can become an adventure for children if it is explained in a playful way and if they can practice it on a daily basis through a multitude of small useful gestures.
To teach them to live in an ecological way, simply teach your child to love nature at a very early age. With young children, everything starts with the observation of plants, insects and birds. They are curious about their surroundings, so encourage them to do so.
Take them with you to the forest, to the countryside. In the garden or on the terrace where you have planted flowers, show them that it takes time, water and sun for them to bloom. He will register this fact and will not want to destroy, afterwards, what he has learned to love and respect.
• Don’t try to captivate your children with long, sanctimonious speeches: they will be impervious to them. Children need images and concrete examples rather than long speeches. If you want your child to be effectively educated on the subject, suggest that he or she join the WWF Panda Club. Outings are organized for children from 6 to 12 years old, in each canton, and allow them to discover nature near their home, through games, observations and experiments. It is well known that it is easier to learn to love and protect what you have learned to know …
• Another way to make ecology a family adventure: cultivate your own organic garden or balcony. The principle is simple: it consists in not using synthetic products (fertilizers, insecticides, fungicides …), preferring natural techniques. Organic horticulture recommends limiting watering and, therefore, not wasting the water that comes from the tap to water your plants, which will prefer rainwater … to be collected in tubs. Also try to multiply your plants naturally, by cuttings or division, for example. With your help, your little ones will discover the joys of healthy gardening.
• Explain to your children that they too can contribute to preserving the blue planet through a series of small essential gestures: don’t forget to turn off the tap when brushing your teeth or soaping your hands, turn off the light in unoccupied rooms, don’t throw paper on the floor, sort waste into boxes reserved for this purpose, and do things with recycled materials that you will have collected and stored together.
• Give them responsibilities: on a picnic, they will have to go around the site with a garbage bag. Their mission? Pick up anything that might be lying around and return the place to nature after you leave.
• Invite them to shop and cook with you, and make it a knowledge game: what fruits and vegetables are in season?
• Multiply your green leisure activities. In nature, everything is an excuse to observe: a bud ready to bloom, an ant nest, a snail, a cloud in the shape of a cat’s head, a cherry ready to blush on a tree, the trees in bloom in the spring… During these activities, have them take pictures of what interests them, and paste them with them in a journal. Why not have them draw what touched them the most?
• Does he like animals? Tell him about the species that have disappeared, such as the dinosaurs, the dodo, etc., and explain that today, other species are threatened, such as the tiger, the panda, the whale, the polar bear, the gorilla, the shoebill…
WWF Panda Club: www.pandaclub.ch