Teaching Children to Care for Creation

Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”

Genesis 1:26

We have been put on this earth to care for it. God has given us rule over all the animals and provided us with all the food to eat from what grows. Sadly, sometimes we allow convenience to trump what is good and moral. 

This week some people have been outraged over big supermarkets removing single use plastic bags. The average plastic bag is used for 12 minutes, yet it takes almost 1000 years to disintegrate. Plastic bags are surfacing on beaches and animals are being strangled by them daily. Some people are complaining that it is an inconvenience that we no longer have bags readily available to use at the supermarket. 

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A bird caught in a plastic bag

For months I have collected reusable bags from Coles, Aldi and Woolworths and I have stored them in my car to use for my weekly grocery run. It has been no inconvenience to me and only required a little effort to ensure I help preserve the environment and all that live in it for the future generations. 

I am also a preschool educator. Over the past year, I have created ways to encourage children to be sensitive to and also care for creation.  I put together a garden with the children and set up a worm farm for them to experience (they love holding the worms).

I have also encouraged composting at the center. The children have learnt to collect food scraps from the chef in the kitchen, also from their own plates and place them in a separate bin to be taken outside to the compost bin at the end of the day. As 4 year olds they have learnt that by separating the food scraps (fruit and vegetables) from the general rubbish bin, they will reduce the size of our rubbish at the end of the day. There are now days where I don’t even have to empty the general rubbish in the classroom as the only thing in them are tissues which can also be composted. 

Involving children will help them understand the importance of our responsibility to the environment. A few weeks ago on World Environment Day, I read the children a book on water. This showed them how easy it is for them to get water from a tap and how other children around the world are not so lucky and have to walk long distances to get their water for the day. By the end of the day the children were notifying me about their bathroom trips, “Miss Christina, I only did a wee so I used the half flush.” Making children aware of their small green steps is crucial to setting their path as adults. That might be why some of this generation of adults, who are used to the convenience of plastic bags is suddenly in panic when they are being  asked to change habits.

Here are some ways to encourage our children to care for the environment (if my preschoolers can do it, you can too!)

  1. Recycle 

Set aside separate bins for recycling in your household. Not only have my preschoolers learnt to separate the rubbish and recycling but I have set this up at home and my mother has learnt (well getting there). 

  1. Compost 

Set up a compost bin at home (no it doesn’t smell when done right). I have also taught the children and mum at home to set aside our scraps from cooking into a small bin and take it to the compost bin daily. Once you tip in the food scraps remember to cover it with brown leaves and sticks, this gives oxygen and stops the smell. The children enjoy searching for leaves and collecting them for the bin. I also use plant cuttings from my garden, this all goes back to providing good nutrients for the garden. It also teaches the children that when put together with leaves it can create good nutrients for plants.

  1. Plant a garden 

Kids love playing in the dirt. Children will feel accomplishment seeing their fruit and vegetables grow as well as see their garden flower. This will also teach children about healthy eating and provide you with so many opportunities to experiment with recipes in the kitchen. It also shows children the effort and resources that goes into growing food and why it is very important not to waste food.

  1. Worm farms are fun 

I have set this up with the preschool children. They enjoy the experience and exploring the cycle of the food that goes into the worm farm. The children enjoy learning about the worms and how they can not only benefits to reduce food waste but they are great for our garden too.

  1. Use reusable drink bottles 

Disposable water bottles are a huge environmental problem. Half of these bottles don’t even end up in the recycling bin, and the ones that do, use up a lot of water to recycle them. Buy a reusable bottle, keep it with you and refill it. Tap water is better for your teeth anyway, or if you don’t like tap water, have a filter installed or use bottles or jugs with filters. 

  1. Minimise showers to 3 minutes 

Water is a precious resource. Set the timer to 3 minutes on your phone and try and stick to it. Sometimes this may be challenging but make an effort not to stay in that warm water for too long. There are parts of Australia in serious drought at the moment and there are people in many countries that have to walk miles to get water for their whole day. 

  1. Use half flush for number 1

This one is easy and if my preschool children can learn it then so can we. Its just little things that we do, that can help preserve what we have. 

  1. BYO reusable grocery bags 

This is the BIG one, recently the NSW Government has banned plastic bags from big supermarkets. This IS NOT a supermarket scam, as some may see it. This is a government initiative to tackle an environmental issue. If you don’t think there is an issue please see the photos below and the damage it is causing to wildlife. We have become a disposable generation – using an item once and throwing it away. Buy reusable bags, they cost $1 for good reusable material ones. Once purchased, all you need to do is store them in your car so they are available when you do your shopping.  

There is nothing more rewarding than seeing that your example is affecting young children.  Those habits and skills taught now will be used by them when they grow up and they will learn to be more responsible for Creation than this generation has been.  

In Christ

Christina Maksisi