Green Family Living
By Linnaea Avenell
An important facet of green living is changing our mindset, not just for us as adults, but for our children starting out in the world. That is, teaching children to respect our natural world and to want to take action to preserve it.
At my farm camp, Little Garden Patch, we approach green living from many fronts: boosting imagination and creative thinking, learning social skills to help them work better with others,
encouraging them to respect diversity (which also helps us as a community work better together to solve problems), encouraging active play, and fanning the flames of wonder about the wide world that exists out there.
Children need to experience and appreciate the natural world: Both for its own sake, as a source of joy to be cherished and protected, and as a complex set of systems that support and nourish us, which need to be nourished in return.
Translating our approach to the home environment, I suggest taking a playful, hands-on approach. Plant a garden they help plant and care for. Seek out farm animals that children can observe, interact with, and even help care for. Talk about where food comes from and engage them in the process of preparing it. Offer lots of sensory-rich outdoor play options (lots of mudpies).
In our local area, children can play amongst trees and flowers and wild birds and bugs as well as a redwood forest with deer and other wild animals. During downtime for snacks and stories, take a chance to pitch ideas in the guise of an engaging story and discussion.
I believe that above all we need to teach the idea that even as we pursue our own goals and joys as individuals, we must make reasonable and responsible choices. Those choices must respect the personal boundaries of others (human and animal) and not destroy the very things we enjoy so much (toys, our plants, the natural environment).
Being a kid isn’t easy. Sure, we may skin a few knees, make some regrettable mistakes, have a spat or two with our friends. And, being just 5 or 6 or 8 years old, we might get carried away and really blow it from time to time. But we learn from it. Through interacting with our green world and each other, we come to a deeper understanding of why we must be caretakers of ourselves, our community, and our world.
We learn which mistakes matter, deeply, and why—and which ones we can just shrug off and laugh about. “I swallowed a bug!” “These things happen…”
I feel like this is something children really need right now—the connection to the real. Now especially in this age of digital entertainment, fake news, and almost-like-real digital animation. And quite honestly, with our stress levels rising, it’s something we as adults need as well.
Check out Linnaea’s Little Garden Patch Farm: www.littlegardenpatchfarm.com