It’s that time of year, when kids trade slip ‘n slides and popsicles for pencils and notebooks. It may be sad to leave a summer of fun behind, but the school year comes with its own potential for learning and growth! For some, however, returning to school can be difficult when it comes to maintaining a sustainable mindset for both parents and kids. The time for exploring and appreciating nature is now limited to weekends and evenings, school lunches come with plastic wrapped utensils, and math and English homework takes over any time spent on sustainability education or involvement with advocacy. It can be a tricky time for parents who have spent the summer gearing their kids up to be the future of environmental consciousness. However, the first day of school doesn’t have to be the last day of engaging your kids in the cause. Here are a few of our favorite ways to incorporate sustainability into all parts of your child’s day during the school year.
1.Continue To Prioritize The Outdoors
Without experience in nature, it’s hard to remember why it’s so important to protect and preserve our resources. Make the time for a family hike, or even an evening walk to keep kids outdoors. Plus, research has shown that kids who spend more time in nature, actually do better during their school day! It’s a win-win for everyone.
2. Get Involved With Administration and Parent Groups
Make your voice heard! Attend PTA meetings or write a letter to your school principal asking about sustainable switches at lunchtime, or an opt-in paper-free communication structure for parents and teachers. Change can start with a single voice. Odds are, there are other parents at the school who are just as interested as you are in making this place work towards a cleaner future for everyone.
3. Talk to Your Student About Starting A Club
Whether there’s a club that already exists, or the potential for something new, a great way to keep kids involved with sustainability is for them to take control! Help them find ways to bring the conversation into their classrooms and club nights.
4. Add Green Homework To The Schedule
Help your student pack their lunch with reusable napkins and cutlery before school. Hang the school uniform out to dry in the sun. Walk to school. There’s no reason to stop making sustainable switches at the start of a new school year.
Last but not least, have patience. With loads of new schoolwork, getting kids fed, dressed, and out the door, A’s on report cards, parent-teacher conferences, school is a busy time. Congratulate yourself for getting your student learning every day! Celebrate the small victories. Get out in nature when you can. Sometimes they’ll forget their perfectly packed lunch box at home. Change takes time and a lot of patience. Continue making the effort to keep kids engaged in sustainability and know that you’re going above and beyond in creating a cleaner future for all.