Inspire your kids to be climate change champions
Those of us with school-age tamariki have also taken on the role of full-time educators (kaiako) for the next few weeks whilst our country is in lockdown. With the world’s profile of global carbon emissions changing (as land and air travel has significantly decreased), now is a useful time to investigate your own passion for climate action with your family.
We know you’re passionate about climate action, so why not enlist your children to help reduce our carbon footprint. Toitū together!
So where do you start?
Meet them where they are
First ask them what they already know about climate change, carbon footprint and greenhouse gases.
Have they discussed it in class? Do they talk about it with their friends? What are their fears or concerns? But also, what do they find inspiring about actions taking place? This gives you a chance to gauge their level of interest and knowledge, along with figuring out if there’s any areas of misinformation before you set off on learning together.
Tell them you're on board
Let them know that you care too. By sharing your experiences, you’re validating their own thoughts and feelings, and making them feel like they are part of a team – not worrying away on their own.
This is also a chance to talk to them about the power of collaboration to make change – use an example like the international cooperation required to phase out ozone-depleting CFCs and the real and positive impact that had.
Educate on the sources
As adults, we struggle with #fakenews and our tamariki may find it harder to spot than we do! Let them know about the credible sources of information that they can seek out when/if they’re doing their own research. Work with their teacher to find age appropriate resources about climate change, carbon footprints, carbon reductions and greenhouse gases.
Use government websites like Ministry for Environment. Or have you seen NIWA’s resources, NASA’s website, or National Geographic’s resources? Expert science communicator Nanogirl has great resources just for kids – check out “what would happen if Antarctica melts?”. What about making it real closer to home – try do a bird survey to see how more species diversity you can see and hear with less traffic on the roads.
Focus on the solutions
You could discuss different carbon reduction projects that the whole family could commit to – is that driving less and cycling more? Is it turning off lights or reducing your household waste?
Why not put maths and critical thinking skills into practice by using Toitū’s Household calculator to measure your household footprint, and track the impact of your reduction efforts. Take it further by sharing with them what you’re doing at work, and perhaps what you could do together as a community.
Looking for more resources? Your children will be learning about climate change at school and specific curriculum information - Ministry for Education’s Sustainability resources – was developed earlier this year. Climate change is a big issue, and your little ones experience a whole host of difficult emotions, including anxiety. The Wellbeing Guide, a part of this toolkit, was developed specifically to help us support our children navigate the information and form constructive responses.
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