Little Steps Make Little Ecologists
How to reduce the excessive use of smartphones among children and replace virtual reality with real-life that takes place out in the open? How to get them away from TVs and encourage them to become more active? The answer is simple: spend every free moment with children outdoors! Guaranteed to work!
We are a five-member family looking forward to stretching our legs, resting our eyes and filling our lungs with oxygen every weekend. Staying outdoors has become our lifestyle, and our nature-inspired adventures and activities encouraged us to launch the Mini Eko Zona blog. The blog was designed as a venue for information exchange and motivation for other parents who want to activate and raise their children in an eco-friendly spirit. We will share several tips with you for joint activities that will turn your little ones into proper little ecologists.
Make a bird feeder
Winter is the perfect time to start feeding birds and simply help them to make it through this tough period. Make a bird feeder from a used plastic bottle, fill it with raw unsalted grains and place it in the yard or on the balcony. Soon you will discover an ornithological wonderland. Give your child an old camera or binoculars to make them feel like a true birdwatcher. They are all around us, they are gentle and children are not afraid of them.
Colorful feathers, songs, beauty and joyful flight of the birds will draw your child’s attention.
Identifying birds based on their appearance and connecting them with their names will develop the power of perception and memory in children, and taking care of birds during the winter will help them develop empathy.
Little things make an ecologist
We build environmental awareness in children since early age, and all the little day-to-day things are an introduction into ecology: we don’t litter, we carry cotton bags when shopping, we don’t use plastic straws, we turn off the light in rooms we are not in, we save water, we dispose litter adequately – compost and recycle!
The process of composting is a great way to make nourishing fertilizer from the organic waste we use in our household for houseplants, garden or simply return it to nature. Also, we do the important thing for nature, we significantly reduce methane emissions from landfills into the atmosphere.
We select and dispose of other household waste in prescribed recycling bins (paper, plastic, metal, and glass). If we also include our children in these activities, they will learn quickly that plastic waste we put in a trash can did not disappear, but it changed its whereabouts and that this is why it is important to reduce the amount of waste we make every day through habit change.
Plant a houseplant, garden or a tree
Growing plants in the garden is a process that requires patience while waiting for a seed to germinate and for our plant to grow. Buy a houseplant and let your children take care of it, discuss with your children about changes you notice. Taking care of their plant, children become responsible, and observing the growth of plantlets, they learn the basics of natural processes in which everything is connected, how plants work and why they are important for the life of us all.
Every year, plant at least one family tree that will grow along with your child.
Park-forest is an outdoor classroom playground
The more the child interacts with its environment, the bigger its life experience.
For the child to learn how a natural process works, they need to see it and experience it “on the field”. When you’re with children outdoors, let them observe nature, touch it, smell it, listen to it, perceive it with all senses. Encourage your children not to be afraid of nature, help them understand it, show them how to love and protect nature.
Nature is interesting and full of challenges, and children will always find ways to have good fun. However, if there is resistance, especially in little children, make a stroll more interesting by collecting herbs together, for example.
Take a photo of every bird, fish, plant or insect you see in their natural habitat, and then identify them together at home and read something interesting. Everything learned this way is hard to forget.
If you go hiking, children will be especially motivated by a sense of freedom, vastness, diversity of landscapes and finally pride overreaching the summit.
Don’t give up on a planned nature outing (which our children always look forward to) because of the skies that are cloudier than expected, the drizzle that has just tarnished the earth, the wind or the temperatures you don’t like.
Many people are demoralized and exhausted by a busy day or week at work. It’s most difficult to get started, but the most important is to take action.
After only a few hundred meters of walking and breathing clean air, the fatigue will disappear and the life batteries begin to recharge. In addition to the well-known health benefits, children develop spiritually and morally in nature. One of the most important reasons for joint outdoor activities is keeping family together, spending some quality time together and teamwork, what we miss nowadays.
Choose books, animated films, and games with ecological messages
Ecology does not exclude technology, or, “If we can’t beat them, let’s join them!”. Multimedia content on offer for generation in the process of growing up are numerous and diverse, and children are going step in step with the times and tech development. Maybe we can use that in a good way, and instead of banning “contemporary technologies“, we can choose the best out of the situation – books, movies and cartoons, and even educational video games and apps which have an ecological message and from which they can learn a lot. The free app titled Birds In the Palm of a Hand (Ptice na dlanu) is an excellent example of an app that can help you and your children learn to differentiate between birds that live in Serbia and find out interesting facts about them.
If we show by example that we are interested in the kinds of birds that fly into our park, if we take them on a stroll in the woods instead of a mall, if we guide them and get them interested in carefully observing the creatures and occurrences in nature, they will soon continue to explore the world on their own. Love for nature will grow out of these activities, and this love will create the need to protect the environment.
Be adventurers, explorers and nature’s guardians, a role model for your little ones. Since we are leaving them a troubled Planet, let’s at least raise them to be responsible, brave, empathetic and original. That is the only hope we have that they will fix what we have broken. Enjoy your time with children outdoors!