Saturday, October 23, 2021

Teaching Young Children to Observe Climate Changes

This has been a summer filled with rain, droughts, wildfires, and tornadoes.  Changes in climate are literally something that affects everyone on earth.  Yet, many of us are scared to talk to our kids, and/or we feel that we lack the knowledge. Talking about the huge storms or wildfires is frightening and we might fear alarming our children by saying the wrong things. Yet, there are some great learning resources on climate change from short movies and books to teaching materials.
You know your kids best, so make sure that the information you give them is not too graphic and upsetting. Kids can interpret things differently so using simple facts is one way of ensuring that they can digest the information. Changes in climate can be explained by using a blanket analogy. Our planet is surrounded by a protective layer, just like a blanket that keeps us at the right temperature when we are asleep.  Global warming means that the blanket gets thicker and thicker. So the challenge is to make sure that the blanket is just right.
Spending time in nature is a great way to help kids become more resilient and less stressed about the changes in climate. It might seem that the best option is to protect kids from the harshness of climate change but it might not be possible to keep the news from children.  It is more fruitful to help kids manage feelings about climate change.  It is difficult to defend something that you do know and looking at trees and plants and searching for bugs and butterflies help kids develop an understanding of how different aspects and relationships in nature work.
It is important to provide hope and ensure that kids see the world as a wonderful place even though we need to address big challenges. Tell kids that many grownups are working on solutions and that they care about kids' future. Invite your kids to come up with ideas on how they can contribute to a better world and help minimize the effects of climate change. Offer simple and interesting examples of innovations such as solar farms in China that are shaped like pandas.
Younger kids may not understand concepts such as greenhouse gases. Start with looking at how things grow and thrive. Planting seeds and caring for plants help to build a foundation for understanding climate change. Fall is the perfect time to observe how leaves are turned into mulch.  Nature does not waste things so the colorful leaves are broken down and reused. In Spring, the leaves provide nutrients for Spring flowers. By learning from nature,  we can find solutions to serious problems like climate change. 

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