This week in our Eco 101 series for families, we have a follow-up post. You can find Part 1 in an earlier post by clicking here. As we acknowledged in our earlier post on how to talk to kids about climate change, it can be a scary topic. But thankfully, there are things that kids and parents can do to try and make a difference.
Helping Kids Explore Climate Change
Teaching kids about climate change can be as simple as showing them what they can do to help, says Lynne Cherry, award-winning author of environmental-related books including How We Know What We Know About Our Changing Climate: Scientists and Kids Explore Global Warming. We agree completely!
Show Them it Can Be Done
Cherry recommends inspiring kids to act by showing them what other kids have accomplished. A great place to start is gathering stories about kids making a difference in this area. For example, reading the stories written about young planet-savers like Alec Loorz, who began organizing a yearly, international youth march at an early age to raise awareness of climate change, can be helpful and inspiring. But it’s important to remind kids that doing something doesn’t have to be hard or grand in scale: it can be as simple as turning off a light when you leave a room, walking instead of driving to a nearby park, or planting a small garden or going to a local farmer's market so your family doesn’t have to buy as many imported vegetables. Being mindful is also a great place to start.
Help Scientists and Get Outside -- All at the Same Time
Scientists are always trying to understand the effects of climate change so we can be prepared for the changes ahead and so we can stop some of the worst effects, and they can always use help gathering all that information. Kids, with their wonderful powers of observation, can help scientists learn about the effects of climate change through citizen science programs and, fortunately, there are many!
Simply, find a program that suits your child's area of interest. One example is Project BudBurst, where kids study and report when flowers bloom. By recording when local flowers are blooming, you and your family can provide scientists with important information about how changing temperatures are affecting plants and animals. It’s a great way to get your kids outside and engaged with the natural world.
Let Your Child Lead The Way
Kids, with their enthusiasm and curiosity, are natural learners. Another fun activity for families is visiting the nearest science museum. We like to say that there is something for everyone, so it's suitable for kids from 1 to 99. If you are in the San Francisco area, consider checking out family night at the museum at the California Academy of Sciences. Maybe it's just us, but we think going to the museum at night is extra fun. If you'd like to read more about them, head over to an earlier blog post that we wrote about them by clicking here. Given all of the educational programs and presentations, there is usually no end to the information that kids can gain not to mention the fun to be had in the process!
Regardless of the approach you take or activities you choose, it is important not to get overwhelmed. We like to think about what Lao Tzu said -- a "journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step." The Environmental Protection Agency explains, many of our daily simplest actions, like driving, turning on lights, and even throwing away garbage, contribute to climate change. So, it makes sense that even simple changes can make a difference. The good news is there are easy ways to modify those actions for the better—we just have to think critically about what they are and what might make a difference. Even though, climate change is a complex topic and there are many ways to learn more about it, kids are generally quick learners. So, don't be surprised if the next thing you know, they are talking with their friends about recycling and organizing a recycling program at home or at school!
Well, that's it for now. As always, thanks for reading and, if you are wondering about the photo, we took it at the Natural History Museum in London in Earth Hall. :-)