Talking to Your Kids About National World Oceans Day
June 8, 2016
How can we raise our children to be citizens who are about the environment, their role in it and their individual impact on planet Earth? National World Oceans Day is an annual observation to honor the world’s oceans, celebrate the products and resources the ocean provides – like seafood and marine life – and take time to appreciate the ocean’s intrinsic value to our environment and our planet.
World Oceans Day provides a unique opportunity every June 8 to take personal and community action to conserve the ocean and its valuable resources, and you don’t need to necessarily live near an ocean in order to celebrate. But how do you help a young child understand the incredible significance of our oceans, let alone how we should observe National World Oceans Day. Luckily, The Ocean Project, an organization advancing ocean conservation worldwide, shares tips for talking with kids under 12 years old about environmental issues. But we know if you’re reading the Family Essentials blog, you’re probably talking to kids even younger than that, under 5 years old. Here are our tips:
- It’s never too early to talk to your kids about the environment. Even toddlers can begin the process of caring for other living things and respect their natural world. As they follow streams, explore how worms wriggle, watch the birds fly in the sky or see ants march over a hill, they’re starting to learn through exposure.
- Facilitate outdoor experiences that are simple and nearby, like taking a family walk to the park, and make observations about the smallest animals and plant life that you see. Even if you see a pretty flower, encourage your small children to appreciate and respect its beauty. Start to teach your children about the food chain when you see birds pecking the ground for worms to take back to their nest, for example.
- When talking to your young children, encourage empathy between them and the natural world. Ask them to talk about their feelings for the creatures, trees or plants they might encounter. Encourage them to say how they feel and what they want to do so you can guide them into appropriate actions that are safe for them and for the life they’re observing (for example, if they are admiring a flower and express they want to pick it, guide them away from doing something that would stop the flower from growing so others could enjoy it).
The emotional connection and understanding young kids establish and learn now will help a new generation be more understanding and caring to their environment. Stories, songs and close-up experiences are excellent ways to help kids get personal with their natural environment, which is what National World Oceans Day is all about.