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Parenting Matters: Take a look outside
When you look outside you are likely to be impressed. The beautiful mountains, billowy clouds, flowers beginning to bloom and lots of sunshine and clear skies. We are indeed fortunate to live in such a beautiful area with such wonderful assets. Not everyone is.
Have you looked at pictures of Paris or Beijing recently when they have had a smoggy day? It looks absolutely awful. Have you heard about the drought in California which is the worst in recent years? What about the pollution of the rivers that have been making headlines as they prevent people from drinking the water?
If you haven’t, it is time to begin to think about what is happening. This is especially true if you have children who hope to be around for a long time.
Most of us aren’t in a position to make a major change in our environment. However, we are all in a place where we can do something. One of the most important things we can do is to help our children become aware of the importance of saving the earth in any way that we can.
I think one of the most important ways a child can help the earth is when she brushes her teeth. Teach her about not letting the water run while she brushes. Maybe one time when she is brushing you can put a bucket under the faucet and let her see how much water she wastes when she doesn’t turn off the faucet while she is brushing. It may not save a lot but it does an amazing amount over a period of time. Make sure you comment on her doing it and how great that is.
Talk with her about countries that are running out of water or ones that have to walk a long way to get the supply of water for the day.
Talk with her about recycling. Even at a very early age, she can learn to separate the burnable from the non-burnable items. Again, your response to her efforts make a huge difference in her really recognizing the importance of what her recycling is doing. Take her to the dump and let her see all the waste that we put into the landfill.
Read books about the environment such as Eric Carle’s “The Tiny Seed” or Christopher Carr’s “Whole World.”
Buy her a plant that she can watch grow so she begins to think about how she can change things through her action. Certainly try to take her to a farm so she can see how things are grown or read books about farms and farm animals.
Talk about the importance of trees. Our oxygen comes from trees. “On average, one tree produces nearly 260 pounds of oxygen each year. Two mature trees can provide enough oxygen for a family of four.” (Canada’s environmental agency, Environment Canada.) While no one knows exactly how much oxygen a tree provides, we know that each tree is helping our environment. Make sure your child knows this especially as you plant a new tree.
Pay attention to the excellent shows that from time to time appear on TV about saving the environment. They certainly come on during April since April 7 is World Day and April 22 is Earth Day. People at least give these issues attention at times like these.
We all need to learn about the environment, what makes it healthy, what keeps it healthy, how to protect it and then teach it to as many people as we can. We need to be learners and teachers not because it is a matter of life or death but because it also is a matter of enjoying the world around us.
Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and director of Parenting Matters Foundation, which publishes newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents. Reach Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 681-2250.