The delayed start to the school year is a golden opportunity to teach children about the environment. Children are naturally inquisitive. Make the most of this time by getting them outdoors to explore the world around them.
“Environmental education is important for everyone as it raises awareness of issues in the natural and built environment,” says Justin Smith, of the World Wide Fund for Nature South Africa. “It also provides an opportunity for children to acquire creative problem-solving skills to address these issues, and become powerful advocates of change.”
Suggestions on getting children back to nature:
Create a connection
As many children are disconnected from nature, they are blissfully unaware of the damage some of their daily actions cause to the planet – like the use of energy at home and while travelling, what they eat and how they dispose of waste, says the New York Times.
By connecting our children with nature, they’re much more likely to want to protect it. Encourage your children to go outdoors and get active. This addresses health concerns, such as obesity and depression, and ensures they become more physically active and creative.
According to Planet Learning Tree, environmental education also provides a platform for children to learn the skills required for the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Getting younger children excited about nature is easy. Natural Habitat Adventures suggests you start with a walk around your neighbourhood to chat about the local plant and animal species. You could also take the family camping, or plant a garden together. Use the technologies your children love to drive home the importance of looking after nature. Watch a documentary on birds. Find a fun online game that explains how they can help protect the environment.
Make a difference
Children repeat the actions of the adults around them. So, the easiest way to get them to participate in conservation is by setting a good example. Let them see that everyday actions — at home, at school and with their friends —can make a big impact. Create a dedicated recycling space at home, as an example.
Parents as teachers
“Environmental education is not only the domain of teachers. By displaying their own involvement in environmental initiatives, parents not only set a good example for their children, but also help to entrench acceptable behaviour towards our planet,” says Smith.
Pieter Twine, General Manager at MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet, adds: “Conservation education goes a long way to ensuring that wildlife is protected for future generations.
“We are proud to help conservation organisations continue their great work. Joining a community loyalty programme such as MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet allows you and your children to support the causes that play an active role in conserving our world’s natural resources.”
South Africa’s first Green School
A new school that supports the view that “education goes beyond books” is the Green School South Africa in Paarl. It is modelled on the first Green School established in Bali in 2008. This will be the third in a planned international network of Green Schools. Learners are taught to think openly and to become future green leaders. Sustainability is at its core.
“During this past year many have begun to realise that traditional models of education are inadequate in preparing the future generation to meet the challenges of today. Too often, schools remain narrowly focused on textbook knowledge and instill an individualistic concept of success. They are unmindful of the natural and social world. Now, more than ever, our world needs curious, creative, and innovative young leaders to lead us out of crises we face,” says Alba Brandt, founder of the Green School South Africa.
Interesting facts about the Green School South Africa:
- The campus is sustainable. It uses solar-generated electricity and extracts water from the river and borehole. The classrooms are set within vegetable gardens, orchards and grain fields.
- The natural setting inspires fun, exploration, curiosity and creative expression. It encourages students to chase adventure. They genuinely enjoy coming to the school every day.
- A highlight of the year is a “passion project” based on a subject in which they have a strong interest. They then explore and develop their projects and present them to the school at the end of year.
- Green School offers education from kindergarten to Grade 8 in 2021. It will go up to Grade 12 by 2025. The school aims to maintain a ratio of one teacher to 10 learners.
For more information on Green School South Africa visit www.greenschoolsa.co.za, contact firstname.lastname@example.org and follow Green School South Africa on Instagram @greenschoolsa and like them on Facebook @greenschoolsouthafrica