Friday, June 15, 2012

Being Environmentally Friendly is Child Friendly

I once mentioned that homeschooling is environmentally friendly.  I'd like to take that a step further today, and talk about how being environmentally friendly is, in and of itself, child friendly.  I'm sure many of you are nodding your heads, thinking, "Well, duh..."

But how often do we think about why that is?

I thought about this for a while, but it wasn't until I really dove into trying to be environmentally friendly that I was truly able to see the effects on my daughter.

Here are a few things I've noticed in the past 4 months:

1.  Increased responsibility
My daughter has become very serious about litter belonging in the trash, rather than on the ground.  I haven't actively taught her to be concerned about this.  She's simply noticed that when I see trash that has blown into our yard, I pick it up and throw it away with a look of disappointment in my eyes.  She now has a habit of picking up litter wherever she sees it, and throwing it in the closest receptacle.  "That's bad for plants." She explains.

2.  Increased curiosity
When I first began my quest to become more environmentally friendly, she would bring a doll outside with her and simply follow me around, occasionally asking me to change its dress, or something to that effect.  No real interest in what was going on around her.  So I began pointing things out and explaining them to her.  Now, she examines everything around us, not just in the garden, but everywhere.  Her favorite phrase has become, "I wonder why...?"

3.  Longer attention span
We all know that technology is just about everywhere in our society.  Wherever we go, we will find a television, a computer, or something else that generally has very pretty, shiny lights blinking on and off.  It's very distracting... especially when you're a three year old child.  Part of becoming more environmentally friendly is taking yourself away from that for a while.  Getting in touch with nature.

My daughter and I spend hours outside every day now.  Removing her from our very technologically heavy home for a few hours at a time has caused her attention span to double.  We can now have entire conversations without her becoming distracted by pretty lights or sudden changes in volume around her.  This isn't just outside, where you don't have those distractions, but inside the home, as well.

4.  Stronger Health

My daughter hasn't been sick once since we began the quest to become more environmentally friendly.  Well, ok... there was one time a few days ago, when her digestive system went nuts, but that was because I made the mistake of going out with the family to eat greasy fast food.  Oops.

Becoming environmentally responsible means changing your eating habits.  We eat very few processed foods, now, and most of those are organic, so we're not getting stuff like that nasty cellulose (aka cardboard).  We've increased our nutrient intake because of this, as well.

Furthermore, my daughter gets dirty.  Really dirty.  There have been studies showing that this can be beneficial to a developing child, building up resistance to germs and bacteria in the soil.  

5.  Complex creativity

Because my daughter doesn't get to enjoy a large amount of brain-numbing tv or electronic toys that think for her, she has to rely on herself if she wants any excitement.  Sure, I'm there, but mothers that are busy working on their gardens can get boring rather quickly.  This has caused my child to come up with her own stories.  It has also caused her to build any of the props that she needs, as well as do her own stunts.  Her stories become very complex, having necessary elements such as beginning, middle, and end, as well as protagonists, antagonists, problem solving, and discovery.  Every now and then she has some sort of deus ex machina occur, as well.

While I'm sure that all of these growth changes would have occurred over time, anyway, but being environmentally friendly has helped me get her to this point a lot faster than she otherwise would have.

My daughter thoroughly enjoys learning, is healthy, and cares about the world around her.  Being environmentally friendly is clearly child friendly, as well.  I can't wait to see what new surprises she has in store for me, next!

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