By Amy Miller
As a parent of young children, climate change and the potential of mass extinction probably weren’t high on the list of topics you were planning to educate them about.
But, alas, here we are.
However, the last thing we want to do is to heighten your climate anxiety.
Here you’ll find an optimistic glimpse into some of the incredible resources out there to educate young people about climate change, giving us hope for a healthier future for our planet and all who live here.
WHAT IS CLIMATE CHANGE?
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) defines climate change as, “a significant variation of average weather conditions— becoming warmer, wetter, or drier—over several decades or more. It’s the longer-term trend that differentiates climate change from natural weather variability.”
Scientists have determined that though the earth experiences periods of heating and cooling naturally, the change we’re experiencing now is directly related to CO2 emissions created by the use of fossil fuels (aka the greenhouse effect) and deforestation.
The changing climate is responsible for melting ice caps and the destruction of natural habitats, rising sea levels encroaching on the habitability of coastal areas, and drastic increases in natural disasters such as damaging storms and wildfires.
These undeniable effects will continue to be part of our reality for decades.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO TEACH KIDS ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE?
A recent study indicated that in their lifespan, children will face seven times as many heatwaves, three times as many river floods and crop failures, and twice as many wildfires as their grandparents’ generation.
In addition to the physical damage caused by climate change, it’s drastically affecting our mental health. A 2021 survey found that 75% of young people are frightened by the future and 60% are extremely worried about climate change.
But, all is not lost because there is also evidence that knowledge is power.
HOW TO START A CONVERSATION WITH YOUR KIDS ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE
You are your child’s first and most important teacher.
So, it’s always best to start with a casual conversation surrounding your own thoughts on climate change and the ways your eco-friendly lifestyle contributes to taking care of the planet. The folks at NRDC have a handy guide for Talking with Kids of All Ages About Climate Change. And for some additional guidance, this article by Yale Climate Connections has a list of tips for this important conversation. So, definitely start there.
BEST ONLINE RESOURCES FOR TEACHING KIDS ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE
Fortunately, while it’s tricky to navigate teaching about these topics without instigating anxiety and worry, there are some incredible digital resources out there that can shift screen time entertainment into increasing climate change awareness in a kid-friendly way. For grade-school-age kids on up, we’ve gathered some of our favorite online resources for curious young scientists and environmentalists to expand their knowledge of what’s going on with planet Earth and what we can do to make a difference. These resources do well in balancing education with optimism and hope which is important when learning about this challenging topic. We think you’ll find that they encourage action and instill hope that people are doing good for each other and the planet.
Within their “Ology” section the AMNH website offers kids a range of topics to explore, including climate change. You’ll find stories with visuals explaining the greenhouse effect, animal extinction, and FAQs answered by a scientist. Kids can also try the hands-on activity templates and directions for fun stuff like creating a terrarium and becoming an energy saver. And they’ll enjoy playing games where they answer questions about rising CO2 levels and solve story puzzles about life in the Arctic.
Founded by climate change education consultant, Kottie Christie-Blick, this site is packed with resources to watch, read, and explore. It’s important to note, this is a compilation resource with lots to sift through so you’ll want to browse through and choose the most relevant and appropriate activities and videos for your child. Though there’s a lot here, it’s nicely categorized into information, games, and how both kids and adults can take action.
This site is a great resource for older kids who are ready to research and learn more about the actions being taken to combat climate change. The best place to start here is with the Weekly Top 5 Happy Eco News Stories where you can read about things like the recent initiative to revolutionize America’s electric grid and places that are moving toward renewable energy sources.
If your child is old enough for a tell-it-like-it-is account of the basic science of climate change, this video by the PBS YouTube channel Be Smart is the place to go. It’s broken down into 24 (yes, that’s a lot!) key points including the role of the heat from the sun, greenhouse gases, why fossil fuels are to blame, the effects we’re experiencing now, and what we can expect in the future.
For More Visit https://www.sustainably-chic.com/blog/how-to-teach-kids-about-climate-change