By Evelyn Masaba
Think back to the first day you saw monkeys when you were a child or the first time they let you wander off alone when you went to visit your grandparents. Children’s minds are filled with wonder; they do not just see things and move on, they want to know how they work and why they are there in the first place.
This very mind is what retains all the information we learn as children and carry it on throughout our lifetime because our brains were devouring everything taught to us. Imagine teaching your child about what our environment is and why it is important to protect it no matter what we do.
Training children from a tender age to appreciate nature is a big step towards our efforts to save the environment from the severe pollution going on. Most children think that if they are told to sweep the compound or pick trash along the walkways in their schools, they are being punished. So when you ask them to do so, they will feel the same sense of dread they get when they are at school.
As a parent, you would like to see your child grow into someone responsible and you try your best to foster them into seeing nature the way you did when you were a child.
We spend so much time on television, phones and computers; there is no way a child will appreciate nature if they do not go outside to see it. Try as much as you can to put time in your schedule for outdoor activities with the children. It’s not only healthy for them to take walks, run around in the compound or go sight seeing somewhere, but it also helps them learn to see nature and notice the many things they miss while watching TV all day.
Teach them about the different creatures that depend on our environment and how we all depend on nature to stay alive. Make the lessons interesting and not much like a lecture lest they get bored with it. You can use your house pets or home gardens to show them some of the visual examples that they can easily understand.
Children notice the smallest things around them, making some of their questions harder to answer. But slowly they pick up especially if you show them what nature has provided, with several examples in the environs around them.
Do not forget to lead by example; children copy most of our habits and mannerism, then turn them into their own as they grow. If you want them to appreciate their environment, let them see you do it everyday and they will do the same. You throwing plastics and littering will make your children think that it is okay to do the same.
Every once in awhile, it is good to travel and see new things; you do not have to leave the country to learn. There is so much that Rwanda offers that our children do not study about in school or see on television. It is always up to us to fill in those gaps and sometimes seeing what they didn’t know or used to just hear about helps gain more interest in nature and encourage their friends to do the same.