Whether you realize it or not, every day you have the ability to empower your students to become stewards of our amazing planet. From modeling positive behaviors, to making curricular connections, to fostering a sustainable classroom environment, there are countless opportunities to help students realize that each of them can make a difference in preserving and protecting our world.
The first and easiest step in creating students that feel inspired to take action is to turn your classroom into an educational tool. Provide plenty of opportunities to make “green” choices throughout the day. Set up a waste station with recycling and composting to build awareness and create good habits. Practice resource conservation through acts as simple as using both sides of the paper and making a box of scratch paper available to the students. One of the best ways to teach about conservation in a classroom is to limit supplies and let children know that, in order to have enough of the supplies they need, they should treat them with care. Be sure to acknowledge positive behaviors and discuss the impact their actions have on the environment.
Your physical classroom environment plays a significant role in teaching children to care for the planet. By choosing furniture that is made of natural materials and is made to last, you are showing your students that every choice they make impacts our environment. Opt for supplies made with recycled content and products that are locally sourced and made in a socially responsible manner. Be sure to share with the class where the materials came from, how they were made, and how these choices positively affect our planet. Your classroom becomes the “third teacher” as it serves as a model of environmental awareness.
One of the best ways to foster a desire to care for the planet is to get your students outside. Daily experiences with nature are essential to creating a catalog of positive associations with their environment. If children feel a connection with nature, then they will feel compelled to protect it. Look for lessons that can either be conducted outdoors or can be easily adapted to an outdoor application. In addition to providing much needed time in nature, this experiential learning is more engaging, helps students better retain what they learn, and fosters confidence in their abilities.
Remember, with every small action you take, you can empower your students to be the conservationists and environmental stewards of the future!