Fostering respect for the environment in children 

By: Meaghan Flokstra

Published on: September 28th, 2023

As we become more aware of humanity’s impact on the environment, it becomes increasingly important to foster an understanding of and a respect for nature in the next generation.  

Children are innately curious, and there are so many different ways to engage their minds to help them develop a love for nature and a deep respect for the environment. By giving them opportunities to interact with the natural world around them and to consider the impact of different choices, you can help them to develop a planet-conscious mindset that will stay with them as they grow older.  

Head outdoors 

It is key to spend time outdoors with your kids. By getting children outside and giving them opportunities to spend time around different plants and animals, you can help nurture their love for the environment. There are many activities to do outside with kids, such as going on a hike, biking on a trail, or having a picnic at the park. In winter, take advantage of the Canadian weather by playing in the snow and going ice skating. 

When exploring nature, one important lesson to teach to kids is to always do your best to leave things the way you found them. When we alter what is already there, there is a chance that we can disturb the native species. However, one important hands-on activity that adults and kids can do together is help clean up litter! Remember to bring gloves and a trash bag before you go outside, and help keep plants and animals safe by picking up trash that you find along the way. 

Grow your own plants 

Cultivating a respect for the environment can also happen indoors. One way you can do this is by allowing your child to take care of a plant. Through this, kids can take an active role in caring for nature and develop a deeper understanding of the effort and time it takes for plants to grow. One simple and fairly inexpensive option is to try growing a bean plant in a cup

You can also look into starting your own garden. This may be something you can do in your own backyard, or you can look into joining a community garden, which is a shared space of land for growing fruits, vegetables, and/or flowers. Growing your own food is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint as well as a perfect opportunity to teach kids about a fun and hands-on way to help save the planet. You can find a list of community gardens in the Greater Toronto Area here, or you can even look into starting your own in your community! 

Reduce your waste 

Additionally, a key component of encouraging respect for the environment is to do the best you can to reduce your harm to the planet. By opting for environmentally-conscious choices yourself, kids can observe and learn about how to treat our planet with kindness. For example, consider investing in reusable water bottles and bags, walking or cycling to get around, and sorting waste into recycling and composting bins when possible.  

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