Earth Day is an annual worldwide event celebrated on April 22nd to demonstrate support for environmental protection. This year, on the 45th year that Earth Day is being celebrated, the focus is centred on the individual, with the theme being “It’s Our Turn To Lead”.
As parents, it is our main responsibility to teach our children what they need to know about our Mother Nature, and what we need to do to save our planet, not only for themselves but for the many generations to come.
For Earth Day this year, let’s start by taking the lead and educating our kids with these five lessons on nature, put together by Ms. Rebecca Goh, an Education Specialist from Kinderland.
1. There is no need to be scared of nature.
Mother Nature is not a scary place. There is no need to be afraid of the plants, soil, animals, and various micro-organisms that exist in nature, because in actual fact they are actually beneficial to a child’s immune system. In exposing a child to nature and other environmental factors early, especially in the years between childhood and puberty when the immune system is developing itself, the child’s immune system becomes trained and will develop immune resistance, allowing the child to have decreased susceptibility towards diseases later on in life. For your child to grow up healthy and strong, encourage them to let loose and get active and dirty in the world’s natural playground, and allow them to reap the myriad of health benefits that nature has to offer.
2. There’s more to this world than beating that high score on your video game.
In today’s digitised world, our children are constantly exposed to digital devices such as mobile phones, computers and tablets. Our young are now more interested in watching videos and/or playing video games on their gadgets, making them less active than before. Encourage your child to spend some of their play time outdoors instead. Once outside, call their sensory faculties to attention by listening to birdcalls, describing the smell of freshly-mown grass, feeling the bark of a tree, and recognizing the different shapes of leaves, for example. Allow them to realize that there is more to this life than the digital realm that they’ve grown to be so familiar with.
3. Nature is your best stress-reliever.
The education landscape in Singapore is competitive, and in trying to cope with the demanding academic expectations, children nowadays are whisked off to all sorts of additional tuition and extra-curriculum classes. To help them combat feelings of stress, ask them to simply look out of the window.
A study has shown that people’s stress levels fall within minutes of seeing green spaces, so let your children know that when the going feels tough, they can always find the best stress reliever right at their backyard. The next time your child throws a tantrum over homework or cries after a nap, gently take them to a nearby park for a walk and bring up the subject of their feelings only when they are amongst greenery.
4. The importance of going green.
If your child happens to complain about how warm the weather is, take note of this ‘teaching moment’ to tell them about climate change and the importance of protecting the environment. Being environmentally conscious is a new norm that our children will have to accept when they grow up, so why not start now? Children can go green in fun and easy ways, by donating their unused books and toys to charity, or sorting out recyclable materials before making a quick trip to the blue recycling bins below HDB blocks. And don’t forget water and energy conservation as well!
5. Nature is where your heart is.
As children spend time playing and exploring the outdoors, they are in the constant process of creating precious memories that will last for a lifetime. In creating these memories, children develop a sense of ‘home’ and belonging, as well as feelings of respect for the land. The knowledge that we exist in a larger environment than just home and school is important in cultivating a sense of connection to our family, our community and the world, in order to live fuller, more meaningful lives when they grow up.