For kids, who may not fully understand what a carbon footprint is or how their green choices today will improve everyone’s quality of life tomorrow, it’s helpful to begin teaching them to be environmentally-friendly by focusing on community awareness. Kids are naturally friendly, curious, social creatures who are constantly studying and interacting with their peers and adults around them. We routinely teach children how their emotions and words affect others, and by keeping the context on community we can easily show them how their environmental decisions affect others. Read on for 4 easy ways for kids to have fun while expanding their community awareness.
#1: Pen Pals
I remember my first pen pal. She was totally different than me! I lived in Colorado and she lived in Virginia, I lived in a suburban house and she lived in a mobile home on a few acres of beautiful, green land. She had siblings and I didn’t. While we could relate on some aspects of being a kid, my seven-year-old mind really hadn’t conceived of the idea that someone could really live in a different state with a different ecosystem and a different type of house and neighborhood than me. Pen pals, even if your child is simply writing to a cousin or grandmother, help kids build an awareness that there is a vast diversity among how people live and will show them we are all human and all connected at the same time. A feeling of ownership for one’s community is at the root of every good-hearted intention to live green.
#2: Clean Up a Park
Kids are usually too busy playing at the park to notice whether there’s litter or whether facilities are clean. By volunteering to clean up trash at a local park, baseball field, or neighborhood you can teach your kids to respect communal spaces and give them the opportunity to see what these spaces look like before and after they’ve been cared for.
#3: Visit the Local Animal Sanctuary
Animal sanctuary’s often house an animal or two on the endangered species list. Visiting these animals gives parents the opportunity to explain why these animals are endangered and where they used to live. Visiting the animal sanctuary also connects kids with animals and widens their global view by teaching them about the ecosystems where animals once lived.
#4: Visit a National Park
National parks really are America’s treasure! There are so many beautiful national and state parks to visit, and taking a trip to one will allow your family to bond and remember why it’s important to protect natural spaces—especially when kids see how many other families flock to these natural havens to escape and enjoy the wild.
YOUR TURN: What is your favorite way to teach the kiddos about community awareness?