Growing Greener Kids: Get Curious

The birds are chirping, the grass is growing and Earth Day is just around the corner! In honor of the cheerful spring season and Earth Day, I will be featuring guest posts by Lauren Kostantin on “Growing Greener Kids”. I know many of you are cloth diapering, babywearing gurus who are in touch with your “green side”, and others of you are just starting to make a transition to greener living– either way I think that we all can learn a little something. I just planted some seeds in a biodegradable egg carton with my toddler today, so I am trying my best to teach her all the things I am striving to achieve for a healthier, greener, more sustainable lifestyle!

Growing Greener Kids, Part One
Get Curious!
by Lauren Kostantin

Much  like the former high school quarterback dad who wants their son to grow up to be an all-star, I am an earthy-crunchy, tree-huggin, nature lovin’ mom who can’t help but daydream about the day her son plants his first organic garden. My  parents were some of the original tree huggers of the 1960’s hippie variety and they fostered that same earth-human connection in me all throughout childhood. So, the passion has come full circle (as all good things should) and I’ve begun my own journey into green parenting.

Raising children into a green lifestyle is more than just going through the motions of recycling, being energy conscious, and eating organic. It really is a relationship. Between you, your children, and the world we all live in. It’s a learning process. The beauty of it is that once you know what to do to help bond your kids to nature, it’s also a whole lot of fun!
Before you get your son or daughter their very own wind farm, you want to start small. Here are a few great ways to pique your kids’ interest and get them curious about the world around them and thinking about the ways that we affect it.

  • Take a sensory walk.  Whether in your back yard or at the neighborhood park, encourage your kids to use their senses. Listen for birds, look for certain colors, and feel the grass tickle your hands. Of course, don’t forget to stop to smell the flowers.
  • Visit a natural science museum, conservation area, or wildlife preservation. There is bound to be some place nearby where your kids can get “greened” … even a trip to the recycling center is going to get their little minds wondering.
  • Think like a toddler. Well, more specifically, question like a toddler. In different situations, ask your kids thought provoking questions like, “Why do you think there are earthworms in the garden?” “Where does this plastic end up if you don’t recycle it?” It will show them that you are curious, too and let them know that it’s ok to ask questions.
  • Point out alternate energy sources when you see them.  Solar panels, wind turbines, even rivers and streams can open an outlet for a curious conversation.
  • Create moments in nature. Whether you’re dancing in puddles, curling up under a tree for story time, or looking for constellations in the night sky making fond memories in the great outdoors brings us all a little closer.
  • Show them your passion. Remember, children learn what they live. When your children see how you feel about nature and witness your own curiosity in action it is imprinted on them in so many ways. There is so much to wonder about. If both you and your children are open to learning, you’ll never need to search for a teachable moment. Spread the wonder.

Maybe the best part of these exercises in nature appreciation is that they require life to slow down, even if just for one afternoon. Block out some time each day or each week where homework, soccer practice, and chores (i.e. “life”) can’t interfere and just spend time.

In Growing Greener Kids: Part 2 we’ll Get Learning! and talk about different resources for educating your little greenies about the planet.

Green Reads  
Fun Stories with Earth friendly messages, guaranteed to get the gears turning:

The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss
Planting a Rainbow, by Lois Ehlert
Butterfly’s Treasure, by Schim Schimmel
Michael Recycle, by Ellie Bethel
The Earth and I, by Frank Asch

About the Author
Lauren Kostantin lives in a small town in Western Massachusetts with her Husband and one year old son, Jackson. A former preschool teacher and now a self proclaimed wanna-be homesteader, Lauren is huge supporter of local agriculture and organic farming. She volunteers at a local draft horse sanctuary, working with rescued and retired horses, and also loves to crochet and sew.
{If you enjoyed reading Growing Greener Kids: Get Curious I would be tickled pink if you left a comment. To read more about my green(er) parenting aspirations, advice and adventures be sure to subscribe to my RSS feed or get updates via email.}
Emi

Emi

By Emi Stapler. I am a cloth diaper advocate, green parenting blogger, mother of three and a military wife who enjoys sharing my motherhood adventures and advice. Follow me at The Cloth Diaper Report on Facebook, Twitter @TheCDReport , Google +, Pinterest and Instagram.
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Comments

  1. It makes me giggle to think that by taking me on all those walks on our property years ago that I was learning things. I don't think it occurred to my parents to use it as a lesson, we just DID it and learned along the way. It was before all the fancy schmancy stuff that keeps people glued to their houses, phones and computers, of course. My hubby and I are moving into our first home soon, and with 8 acres, we have already started teaching our toddler about things. Worms, leaves, river rock. It's awesome!

  2. Lauren Kostantin says:

    Jill, that's fabulous! Isn't it funny how these little rituals, like a walk, have somehow gotten lost in all the hustle and bustle of today's life? But, as you mentioned, so many of the best lessons just come out of everyday moments :)

  3. Hey I didn't know you replied to comments. Here I've been leaving comments forever and never checked back!

  4. Lauren Kostantin says:

    ha ha, well, I don't know if everyone does. I just like to keep in touch 😉

  5. Jill, you can subscribe to comments as well (see just below this comment) so you get notified when other people comment on the article you commented on :-)

  6. Great article! Passing on any value to kids is deeper than teaching them "x is good, y is bad", but taking the time to show them why and help them think it through.

  7. Lauren Kostantin says:

    So true Hannah! It helps to create a deeper understanding. And I think, ultimately, more compassionate children because they are able to look beyond surface value.

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