Let’s face it – kids are prone to leaving lights on, taps dripping and taking long showers. They’re also not so great on knowing what can and can’t be recycled, or understanding where their waste goes after it’s put in the bin. So how do parents impart the importance of conserving energy and water, or reducing the amount of waste that goes to landfill without encountering rolling eyes or blank stares? Try to make it fun!
- Clear out the closets: It’s always a good time for sorting through the mounds of cast-off or outgrown clothing stuffed in the back of the closet or piled on the floor. But how can you possibly make the process fun? Well, the answer lies in offering an incentive. Explain to the kids that all the clothing in good condition can be recycled by donating it to an op-shop or charity, thereby helping out those less fortunate. Then, suggest to them that for every ‘x’ items of clothing put aside for recycling, you’ll purchase 1 or 2 new items of their choice. This way you can turn the results of the clothing de-clutter into another fun activity — a day out shopping with the kids for some nice clothes for school.
- Get down & dirty: Most love getting dirty, so make the best of this and plan a day of planting herbs and veggies in a garden bed, planters or pots. See it as an opportunity to teach them about the importance of healthy eating, the advantages of growing your own food and how it contributes to living more sustainably. If you already have a composting system, explain how it not only reduces the amount of food waste going into landfills but also provides you with a free source of nutrient-rich soil for your garden. If you haven’t started composting, get the kids doing some research and find a system that’s going to suit your family.
- Upcycled art & craft: Turning stuff that you’d generally throw away into something beautiful and/or functional is a great activity for younger kids, with no end to creativity. Plastic drinking bottles can be made into bird-feeders; tin cans can be painted and transformed into pencil holders or wind chimes; an old cardboard pizza box can become a solar oven; and plastic bottle caps can be threaded into a colorful mobile, for just a few ideas.
- Turning off & powering: down Getting kids to conserve energy and water is no easy task. You’ll need to inspire kids to take responsibility for their water and energy use, and, once again, an incentive system is probably the best answer. In this case, pull out your most recent energy and water bills and explain how to read them, highlighting the average daily household usage. Then, challenge the kids to reduce this usage before the next bill arrives, doing simple things like turning lights off when they’re not in the room; brushing their teeth without running the tap; taking shorter showers, and turning off appliances like computers and chargers at the switch. The incentive could be that if there’s a difference in the cost of the old bill and the later bills, it’s put into a jar and, once a decent amount is saved, the kids get a treat, such as a night out to a movie and a meal of their choice.
- Visit the zoo: Spending a day at the zoo is a great way to focus your kids’ attention on the impact of things such as pollution, habitat loss and other human activities that have contributed to many species becoming endangered. These days, zoos are far more about the conservation, protection, and preservation of wildlife than they are about providing a spectacle for visitors. This means that the animals are presented in such a way that viewing them is an educational process, including having the opportunity to hear the keepers talk and, in some cases, getting up close to the animals. For kids, this is a perfect opportunity to start making the connections between the actions we take in our lives and the implications for the natural world.
Triangle Montessori Academy is a Cary preschool emphasizing art, mathematics, practical life, Spanish, yoga, meditation, and music. The private, year-round school was founded in 2008 and accepts children from 18 months old up to six years old. The school is a member of the American Montessori Society and all teachers are AMS-certified. Students at the school are exposed to Montessori-style teaching approaches, including individual learning according to each child’s style and pace, multi-age classrooms that allow children to advance when they are ready, and a nurturing of students’ natural curiosity.
For more information, call 919.463.7770, or visit our Website at www.trianglemontessori.org.