I had big plans to raise an eco-conscious child that is mindful of the environment, and I feel like I’m successfully doing just that. However, I had no idea that I would also learn so much from my little one in the process.
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Little Boo is almost 4 years old and it has been the most fun time as his mama watching him learn and grow. We have, in my words, “homeschooled from birth,” so learning is an everyday thing in our household. It started with watching and learning sign language through Baby Signing Time together when he was a few months old, and today it happens from every conversation and question full of curiosity to exciting homeschool activities we that explore in order to learn more about the world.
As someone who has been intentional about leading a sustainable lifestyle, it was very important to me to teach my child to do the same. I made the eco-conscious decisions to cloth diaper him and try to reduce waste in areas where it is easy to be wasteful when raising a kid. I also want him to live sustainably so that making decisions with the environment in mind first comes naturally to him. That is why I am intentionally raising and eco-conscious child. Here’s how I’m doing that, so far.
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Be the eco-conscious example
The adage “do as I say, not as I do,” doesn’t work for a reason. Children grow and learn by modeling what they see. It is how they learn to talk, walk, eat, dance, play, and more. What you do, they will do. Thus, setting an example by living an eco-conscious life is the best way to teach children to do the same. Everyday actions such as recycling, using reusable straws, cloth towels instead of paper towels – they inform children how to treat the world around them. They will ask questions about them, creating teachable moments. Your eco-conscious actions will become inherent to your eco-conscious child.
Related post: Beya Made – Children’s Clothes That Grow
It’s never too early to teach children about sustainable lifestyle habits
When we go on walks, if Little Boo spots some trash, he immediately talks about how it shouldn’t be there. The words “pollution” and “litter” aren’t part of his vocabulary, yet, but he knows the meanings and concepts of them. He understands that plastic belongs in the recycling bin for the cool recycling truck and workers to pick up. And if he ever has questions, such as asking “what do you call that,” when he sees litter, I tell him what it is. It won’t be long before he remembers the word “litter” and uses it to describe the waste people have thrown on the ground.
It is the open communication and intentional talks that I have about being sustainable that make him aware of these concepts. I talk to him as if he is an intelligent being, because he and all children are, and he takes it in. Breaking down concepts may not always be easy, but that’s why internet search engines are useful. You could even use Ecosia.org, which plants trees with each search, when you look for information to help teach your child.
Little Boo is 3 years old, and these are the sustainable living actions that we have discussed, and that he understands and engages in:
- using straws at home
- not everything is trash
- putting food scraps in the compost tumbler
- thrift shopping and buying second hand
- sharing (giving) clothes and toys that we no longer use
Concepts that we are workings on:
- not wasting food (hahaha, y’all send good vibes for this one)
Read children’s books about sustainable living
It is exciting to see so many books available that teach children about being sustainable. A few that we own or have checked out from the library are below:
- Compost Stew
- The Barefoot Book of Earth Tales (support a Barefoot Books ambassador when you purchase a Barefoot Book #SupportSmallBusiness)
- The Beeman (Barefoot Books)
- The ABCs of the Environment
Here are a few other titles that I’d love to read with Little Boo:
- Grandpa’s Garden (Barefoot Books)
- We Are Extremely Very Good Recyclers
- Magic SchoolBus Gets Cleaned Up
- I Can Save the Earth!: One Little Monster Learns to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle (Little Green Books)
- I Can Save the Ocean! (Little Green Books)
- The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle (Little Green Books)
- The Adventures of an Aluminum Can (Little Green Books)
- Santa Clause is Green! (Little Green Books)
- The Earth Book
- Thank You, Earth
- Earth Ninja
… and so many more! You can find even more on this list of GoodReads Eco-Friendly Kids Books. As Little Boo gets older, we will explore more books together as well as incorporate sustainability lessons into our homeschool curriculum. We’ll probably start doing that this fall, so I will keep y’all updated with how we do so.
Also, several cartoons now have at least one episode about being sustainable. If you indulge in tv time with your kids, always be sure to emphasize the lessons that they can learn in those shows.
Every time I think about how much more I can teach and Little Boo can learn, I get excited! I’m always impressed by how intelligent he is, and I’m so glad to be able to be his educator. Even if you don’t homeschool, there are plenty of moments that you can share teachable moments – those everyday moments at home are what matter most. Use those moments to truly nurture your eco-conscious child.