Monday, March 12, 2007
PROMOTE ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION FOR CHILDREN
by Deborah Mitchell — Senior Editor, Environmental Protection
Environmental education for children is critically important and should start before school begins. Early environmental education experiences help shape children's values, perspectives, and understanding of the environment and how to interact with it. Yet many children have little or no meaningful exposure to environmental education or opportunities to connect with the natural world because they are involved with activities that isolate them from it.
Computers, video games, television, schools' emphasis on homework, a full after-school schedule of extracurricular activities, lack of access to natural areas — all these things and more are isolating children from the natural world and the advantages of environmental education.
In fact, it's been shown that fostering environmental education in children is critical because it:
* helps them develop into adults who understand and care about environmental stewardship
* nurtures their sense of wonder, imagination, and creativity
* provides them with a sense of beauty, calm, and refuge in a sometimes frightening world
* expands their intellectual development; it's been proven to improve test scores, grade-point averages, and problem solving skills
* enhances physical development
* helps them understand the interrelationship of all life
Many of the decisions you make on a daily basis affect the environment; for example, what household products to buy, how much driving to do, what items to recycle, what to buy for dinner, and what products to use on your lawn and garden. Children need to learn from a very early age that the environment has an impact on their lifestyle and quality of life. Similarly, their lifestyle has an impact on the environment.
Today's children will be responsible for making decisions that will shape the health of the environment. To prepare them for such responsibilities, they need a sound environmental education as a foundation from which to make those decisions.
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