Now that school is out for summer I am constantly looking for new and exciting things to do with my kids in hopes that it will be a memorable summer for all of them. No matter what I do with the kids I always try to make it a learning experience in one way or another. Most of the time they don’t even realize that I’m trying to educate them on something. I’d like to think that all parents want to teach their kids something new every day, but it seems in today’s world teaching gets lost with all the rushing around and activities. Likewise, I think most kids shut down or tune you out if they think you are actually trying to teach them something (especially in the summer).
We are a very “outdoorsy” family, thus my passion to preserve, as much as possible, our wonderful planet. I realize not everyone has this same passion, but I think there are some very basic fundamentals that every parent should teach their kids when it comes to conservation ideas. These fundamentals are: (1) keep it clean; (2) conserve energy and water; and (3) respect your environment. Sounds easy enough, but day after day I see kids and parents blatantly violating these ideas. These are good people who I know have all the right intentions of being a good parent most of the time, but for one reason or another just don’t think these fundamentals are important enough to reinforce with their kids. For the most part, these fundamentals can only be taught to children when we, as parents, practice them every day. So if you don’t follow these basic ideas, then more than likely your kids won’t either.
KEEP IT CLEAN! Every parent wants their child to clean his/her room or clean up a mess if they make one, but it usually stops at that – home! Keeping it clean is a motto that pertains to much more than just a room or a mess made while doing something. It is all about RESPECT! If you respect yourself and where you live then this motto is easy to follow. “Keep it clean” refers to your body, your house, your community, your food, and your language. Parents need to teach their kids to respect themselves – explaining that if you like yourself then you will feed your body healthy things (eating clean), you will practice good hygiene (being clean), and you will use intelligent words not bad words (clean language) . Parents need to teach their kids to respect their home – explaining that if they like where they live they should make every effort to make it as nice as possible (keep the house/yard clean). Finally, parents need to teach their kids to respect their community – explaining that they should be proud of where they are from and make every effort to keep it clean – DON’T LITTER and do your part to help keep it looking nice. As a parent, if you follow these ideas then point it out to your kids when you are “keeping it clean” so they know what you are doing and why.
CONSERVE ENERGY AND WATER! This is another area that children learn by example. As a family, make every effort to turn off lights and electronics when not in use, limit your use of water by taking shorter showers, collecting rain water to water plants and wash your car, turning off the water when brushing your teeth, etc. Again, talk to your kids about why you do these things and why it’s important. The more you do these things the more likely they will become habits that your kids will follow throughout their life.
RESPECT YOUR ENVIRONMENT! Your environment is everything around you – your community (streets, signs, buildings, parks), the trees, the animals, the soil, the plants, the water, the weather. Teaching your kids respect for all of these things is teaching them to be a safer and more compassionate person. Again, teach them by pointing out every time you are showing respect for the environment. For example, when kids are asked to get out of the pool because of lightning – explain what lightning can do and why kids should respect its power. Or when you see a bird – talk to your kids about what kind it might be and what benefits birds provide – if you don’t know then spend time learning about it with your kids.
These basic fundamentals should be practiced and reinforced with your children every day. If you believe in these ideas, then teach your children by setting an example for them to follow. And, most importantly, talk to them about how you do your part. When you are rushing from activity to activity turn off the radio/video and use the time to talk to your kids. Maybe even plan an activity that reinforces these fundamentals. Even though school is out for the summer, every day should be used to learn something (both for you and your children).