Today, educating children about the importance of sustainability and the environment should be prioritized. As we become aware of the current state of our green planet, it’s crucial to instill the young ones’ minds with eco-conscious values and form sustainable habits in children so they can preserve the wellbeing of Mother Earth and live well in the future. In this blog, we’ll take a look at the importance of sustainability, as well as exploring some options to educate young minds to become the future caretakers of this planet.
Why do we teach children about sustainability?
First, we’ll explore the meaning of sustainability! The United Nations (UN) defines sustainability as: “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” A very simple, yet powerful explanation. The basic needs of people involve clean air, clean water, food, and shelter. All those four factors are heavily dependent on the state of the environment. We can say that environmental sustainability is vital because human survival depends on it. It is our responsibility to use the finite resources we have on Earth conservatively, and carefully so there is enough for future generations.
Teaching children about sustainability brings both short-term and long-term benefits! First, it teaches children about the impact of their actions. Recycling is not just about putting trash in the right bin, it’s about letting children know that one small action, when being done by multiple people repeatedly can create a huge effect around the globe. By understanding the implications and the power of their choice, children can develop a sense of environmental responsibility in their lives.
“Small choices become actions, actions become habits, and habits become our way of life”. The earlier you introduce children to sustainable practices, the more likely they are to become not just habits, but also a lifestyle of conserving the environment. Teaching children about sustainability helps them to analyze their environmental choices, hence fostering their critical thinking skills. As we all know, critical thinking and problem-solving skills are essential skills for everyone to navigate in the ever-changing world.
Sustainability is the key to protecting our shared home.
Teaching Children About Sustainability
From lectures to games, to outdoor learning, there are various ways to teach children about sustainability without sacrificing the fun factor! Here are some of our recommendations below:
In the Classroom
It is where children spend most of their time in. It’s important to create an environment where children can learn about sustainability, and openly discuss and ask questions about what it means. Teachers can integrate sustainability into the school curriculum, by giving lessons about climate change, global warming, and encouraging environmental conversation. Choose children’s books, stories that convey environmental messages. The power of storytelling is that it can deliver messages like biodiversity, environmental awareness in such simple, and attractive ways that children can easily absorb and remember for a long time. Encourage children, make them feel comfortable asking questions about sustainability and ways we can be more sustainable. This will deepen their understanding, improve their collaboration skills while empowering their thinking and choices.
As teachers, you are one of the first role models in children’s lives. Make sure to exercise sustainable practices, from putting trash in the correct bins, to spontaneous situations that require your decision-making, such as: finding a way to reduce waste, conserve the energy by turning off lights that are not in use, and other eco-friendly choices. Your actions are influential examples for the children to mimic, and to practice after.
Having a sustainability role model for children is important for them to mimic, and practice after.
The power of play is that it can make learning about anything fun! Similar to books, playing can instill messages in children’s minds in a seamless way. Tap into children’s inner creativity with eco-friendly themed arts and crafts projects. Use recycled materials, and at the same time, educate children on the importance of using such materials – how limiting the use of some harmful materials helps endangered species, and how repurposing materials can limit waste. Give children the freedom to do their own researched topics and do presentations in front of the class. This will help them actively look for information about environmental conservation, while learning new ideas from their peers. On a day-to-day basis, you can foster children’s love for nature by encouraging them to observe the environment outside their windows! From the change in seasons shown in the leaves, to the animals that sometimes cheekily appear and then disappear, letting children be aware of the diverse ecosystem around them can foster a love of environment in kids from an early age.
Get your creative music vibes going with this Rhythm Box. Inspired by the cajon hand drumming box, children can sit on the box and drum away creating rhythm and tempo.
Teach children meaningful lessons about sustainability while having fun playing!
Ecology Naturals Kraft Sheets is perfect for arts & crafts projects with an environmental theme.
Use this lightweight Natural Kraft paper for drawing or for decorative purposes.
Cork Stoppers’ sustainable production and ease of recycling make it the ideal choice for arts and crafts.
Cork stoppers are a versatile craft product. They are excellent for assembling dolls, animals and models.
Natural Lacing Frames, Set of 3 are made from sustainably-sourced birch plywood. The three lightweight wooden frames in this set are easy to manipulate as children explore by threading the holes with a variety of lacing materials.
Use wool, laces, string, or ribbons to create colourful compositions!
Technology could also be used to educate children about sustainability! There are a lot of interactive apps, and websites that let users take virtual tours, or play games and learn about the environment. Compared to traditional learning methods, these tools let children actively go and explore options to learn about sustainability. Inviting guest speakers to the classroom (or to school) to host sessions about sustainability could be another idea. With the power of technology, you can now invite virtual speakers to do webinar. These speakers – specialists in their area can provide real world examples and inspire children to pursue a career in sustainability in the future.
Within the school system, educators can also advocate for sustainable school policies, such as policies related to waste management, energy conservation, or the use of sustainable school supplies and toys. The school’s focus on sustainability will create a huge impact on the students and will effectively foster the message of being sustainable to all students in the school.
Colour code your files with these Fluorescent File Folders! Each package contains 10 folders in five assorted hot fluorescent colours: yellow, orange, red, pink, and green.
100% recycled and recyclable, these would make a great choice for classroom supplies.
Outside the Classroom
Outdoor learning allows children to immerse themselves in the wonders of the natural world. Through direct experiences, they develop a deep connection and appreciation for the environment. Let the kids go outside, explore their surroundings, gather objects, or simply play in the backyard. This exposes them to plants, and animals, and strengthens their senses of wonder, empathy, and environmental stewardship, inspires them to care for and protect our planet.
Igneous Rock Collection brings Earth science lessons to life for students! Each specimen is handpicked for exceptional colour, texture, and beauty.
Features 12 large igneous rocks produced by hot volcanic magma action. Hide these in the playground and let children discover them!
Engage in the community surrounding your school is another exciting idea! Get permission from the community to do meaningful projects such as Community Gardens – where children can plant fruits and vegetables, take care of them, or plant trees. The simplest one to do is a neighbourhood cleanup, where kids go around the neighbourhood to clean trash. Involving children in these campaigns helps them to learn about the efforts of conserving the environment, promote their senses of civic duty and community.
Sprout and Grow Window helps to get a worm’s eye view of root growth. This transparent “nature’s window” allows gardeners of all ages to watch seeds sprout and grow into plants.
Teaches children how to grow, and the process of growing through this item!
Sustainability education can go beyond the classroom – try to involve parents! Educators can provide parents with guidance and resources on doing sustainable practices at home. Let them know every little choice matters, from reducing household waste to making eco-friendly consumer choices.
Bamboo-made Products: A Great Sustainable Choice for the Classroom
Bamboo is a sustainable and eco-friendly choice because it doesn’t die after harvesting. Instead, bamboo regrows from its stump, unlike traditional tree species. Additionally, bamboo is incredibly fast-growing and reaches maturity in just 4-5 years, while other types of trees like birch can take up to 40-50 years to mature enough for harvesting. Strong, durable, and beautiful, bamboo is a renewable resource that grows quickly and sequesters carbon, unlike metal which produces carbon.
Bamboo Deluxe Chart Stand has a natural aesthetic better suited for neutral and early childhood environments. It can hang both chart paper and pocket charts along with the ability to adjust the height of the whiteboard.
Bamboo ranks highest for resistance to denting and wear compared to other wood species. It also has a higher tensile strength than metal – It will take more force to break the bamboo than the metal!
Bamboo Shelving Unit has three shelves for storage and optional 6 tub configurations. It is at the ideal height for ECE students and educators to access toys, books and other supplies.
Bamboo is easy to care for: just wipe it down with soap and water.
Bamboo Book Browser Cart is designed to be used within a classroom for neutral and early childhood environments. It can be used as a mobile in-class library or for making space materials and tools.
The tubs are 100% recycled post-consumer plastic and can be easily removed.
Sustainability education for children calls for the collaboration between educators, parents, and the community. Despite being a considerable effort from all sides, the reward is satisfying. Raising a generation of eco-conscious people will be essential to help create a responsible and resilient world. By incorporating sustainability into classroom, school, home and beyond, we can help children build a long-lasting foundation for environmental stewardship!
Let us continue to nurture green minds!