Becoming a Child of Nature: It's a Twofold Task ofParents and Children.
1. If children discover the beauty of nature while they are young, they will respect nature and try to preserve it when they are older. Parents play an essential role in helping their children make this discovery. Although young children are not able to understand the complex relationship of man to his environment, they can be educated in this aspect and learn how to respect nature and gain a simplified understanding of the importance of a healthy ecological environment. Helping children to gain such an appreciation and understanding can be an exciting adventure which is available to all that are willing to explore and use their senses of touch, taste, smell, sight, and heating.
2. Wonderful phenomena of nature are all around us. For example, have you ever awakened early to watch the sun rise? Have you ever stopped to observe a setting sun, a star-filled sky, or an October moon? Have you ever gone out after a rainfall and delighted in the scent of the fresh air? Have you ever taken time to listen to the song of the birds, the trees' rustling in the wind or the music of the crickets? Have you ever held a seashell to your ear and heard the roar of the ocean? Have you ever tasted fresh berries, melon or spring water? Have you ever shared the above experience with your children?
3. To help children gain an understanding of the world around them and the importance of ecology, parents can use interesting objects from their children's everyday lives. For example, most children are familiar with rocks. They have seen them, touched them, and played with them. However, they will not discover the beauty and uses of rocks unless you help them. Collect some rocks and point out that some rocks are minerals, others may be used for decorations, like marbles used in building houses, and still other rocks are used to build roads. Visiting mountains if possible can help them gain a better understanding of rocks.
4. Most young children love to play in dirt. You can help your children to gain the concept that soil is not just dirt but something necessary for life. Most plant life grows in some form of soil. Take your children for a visit to gardens and farms where food is grown. Perhaps your children can have their own plants or gardens. You can explain to them that plants are necessary not only for food but also for controlling floods. During a time of heavy rain or snow, plants help to absorb the moisture.
5. It's difficult for young children to gain an appreciation of rain because rain to young children means that they can't go out to play. However, you can try to help your children realize that rain is vital to life. Without rain, plants and animals would die of thirst. Your children know what it feels like to be thirsty. If you have plants and allow your children to help you water them, this will help them to start recognizing the importance of water to life.
6. You can also help your children gain some understanding of the importance of clean oceans. Even young children realize that an ocean filled with garbage is not good for sea life. Many fish can die or become contaminated from the trash that is thrown into the ocean. People, who unknowingly eat fish contaminated by pollutants in the water, can become seriously ill.
7. Many children, through the examples, can begin to become more aware of man's relationship to his environment. However, even more importantly, you can help them by example to learn to respect their environment. Young children learn not only from first hand experiences but by imitation. If you show your children by your actions that you respect the environment in which you live, this will start them on this path.
8. Do you avoid putting pollutants in the air by never burning your leaves? Have you ever stopped smoking? Do you respect plant life? Do you stop anyone from carving in the bark of trees? Do you avoid walking on fresh grass? Do you conserve water and energy?
9. By setting a good example for your children, you are not only giving them a good model to imitate, you are also helping them to increase their chances for survival. It is not too soon to help your children to appreciate, understand, and respect the environment in which they live.