When should you begin teaching your children about the environment? Environmental teachings based on everyday habits need to start at a very young age. These types of lessons are very important for creating lasting respect, appreciation, and behavioral patterns with regard to the environment.

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Because of the fact that youngsters acquire knowledge about the environment by experiencing it, teachers and other mentors should pay special attention to consistency, type, and quality of children-environmental connections while they are in the beginning years. Lots of youngsters have very few chances for this type of interaction. As a matter of fact, no matter where they grow up, young children misspend almost all of their early life in situations which never let them appreciate the natural world. Most of their time is spent in the house instead of walking, most travel by car or public transportation; and preschool lessons -- where many kids spend a large part of their time--are mostly taught in the classroom rather than outside. The byproduct of this is that many little ones never develop a positive feeling or bond regarding nature and the environment. They never experience familiarity with the natural world. Putting an emphasis on environmental teachings at a very young age is a great way to help this situation.

The idea behind teaching very young children about the environment has its basis in two theories. Firstly, little ones must acquire a feeling of respectfulness and affection for nature and the environment in the very beginning years of their lives or there will be a good chance they may never find it. Secondly, healthy experiences with nature are an essential key for positive childhood growth, and those experiences enhance the ability to learn and create overall happiness in one's life.

Here are some useful ways in which parents can teach their children to appreciate and preserve the environment:

* Allow them to experience the outdoors are often as possible. Kids absorb knowledge through personal experience. Therefore, interacting with the outside world is the best way for them to learn from it. Ideally, they should have this opportunity on an every day basis. Allow them to experience trees, butterflies and all that nature has to offer, in an area that is close to home or school. Add a birdhouse, vegetable garden, tree house or sandbox to your yard and give them a shovel, garden hose, buckets etc. to help them explore. 

* Display a strong curiosity and love of the natural world. By expressing your own joy and respect for nature you will create that same interest in the environment for your child. Radiating a feeling of wonder will keep your child fascinated with nature. As a result, even parents with very little scientific knowledge can still teach and encourage their child through environmental education. Personal interaction means much more than scientific facts when it comes to teaching little ones about the environment. 

* Become a role model of caring and awareness for nature and the environment. Speaking to your kids about helping the planet does not work as effectively as showing them easy ways to accomplish this. Show them how to care for plants and animals. Lead by example and they will follow. Teach them how to dispose of trash properly and create recycling habits whenever possible. 

* Kids, oftentimes, will become very attached to what is familiar. In order for them to feel connected to the environment, they need continuous interaction with the outdoors. Giving them lots of opportunities for this type of experience is what environmental education is all about. By helping little ones with exploration and enjoyment of nature, they will grow to be environmentally conscious adults.