Most of the time, we view Earth Day as a fun springtime holiday to finally get the kids outdoors after a long winter. And while there's nothing wrong with having a little fun on a day that celebrates Mother Earth, it's all too easy to miss the deeper meaning. Teaching our kids to care about the planet at a young age is essentially giving them a gift — by preserving the planet our kids and our grandkids are going to live on.
On April 22, 1970, approximately 20 million people nationwide attended the first Earth Day celebrations, bringing to light the fact that this planet's resources are finite and will not last forever. The day was meant to inspire people to preserve and protect what Mother Earth has given us. "We only have one earth, so we have to take care of her," Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson, the founder of Earth Day, said.
Our children are the future, and the fate of this planet is not only in our hands but in theirs, too. Once we've used up and destroyed the resources of our Earth, there's no turning back. The most important thing for kids to know is that Earth Day is not one day of celebrating by creating more garbage, but instead a reminder of what we should be doing all year long.
As a parent, you probably know that kids learn by watching (both the good and the bad). This double-edged-sword effect of parenting can have a big impact on Earth Day as your kids watch you work to protect and preserve the environment.
Here are some easy ways to show kids what Earth Day is really all about:
Remember to not only do these things but also talk about why these Earth-saving practices are important. Kids will follow in your footsteps once they understand the value in what they're doing.
Our kids won't understand how fragile the environment is unless we tell them. Whenever possible, use various means to teach kids about ecology and species extinction. Help them to understand that what they do does have an impact, for better or worse.
Look for teaching opportunities like:
Most of all — talk about it! Discussions about ecology at the dinner table or in the car will let kids know this is a topic important to you. And when something is important to you, your kids care about it, too.
If you've been meaning to volunteer as a family, now is the perfect time to act. Earth Day-themed family volunteer opportunities can stress the importance of giving back to the community and to our planet. Even better, family volunteer projects create valuable bonding time and at the same time teach kids about environmental concerns.
Try family activities like:
Earth Day is only one day a year, but saving our planet for our own kids and future generations is a life-long endeavor. By celebrating Earth Day, at the very least, you're teaching your kids how important it is to protect our planet. And, at the very most, you're showing them that one person really can make a difference.
Before you go, check out our slideshow below:
Updated by Bethany Ramos on 4/20/2016
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