When the monthly electricity bill came home, Rohan’s father was in for a shock. He could not believe his eyes, as the amount was much more than what he normally allotted as energy costs. He angrily called out to his wife and children, shouting at them for wasting electricity “All of you are irresponsible; the geyser, lights, fan and TV are eternally on. How many times should I tell you to be careful,” Rohan’s father said.
If this is a familiar scene in your house, think again. Is that the way you teach energy conservation to children? Certainly not. Instead of lecturing our little ones on the need to save energy, why not give them some positive and affirmative experiences – children always learn better and imbibe values through interesting activities.
“We need more people, especially youngsters, to engage in conservation efforts. Children can connect with the environment by getting outdoors and doing little things that will have a significant impact,” says teenage conservationist Vikas Madhav.
He urges children to take up environment-friendly projects in their locality and school, avoid using plastic, segregate waste and so on.
Here is how parents can educate their children on saving energy. Try these fun and engaging ways to teach your little ones about conserving energy and you’d be surprised how involved they will be in green living practices.
1. Play a game
Lecturing kids about environmental degradation around the world and rattling out boring facts and figures is not going to help. Engage them in a game instead. Here is one interesting game to talk to them about energy efficiency – Ask your little ones to walk around the house with pen and paper, and to make a note of all the appliances and equipment that consume energy. Make them write down the names of all these things and let them suggest what measures can be taken within the home to reduce consumption of electricity and go green. You can stick small notes near these appliances to give them interesting information on conservation.
2. Switch off the lights
Children will learn eco-friendly practices when parents demonstrate their commitment to the cause. Assign one day in a week for a “turn off” ritual, for a few hours. Tell your kids the significance of using less electricity and how it impacts the environment. Light up some candles and play a board game to keep the children occupied while talking about the importance of conservation.
3. Energy-efficient transportation
Often, we are so involved in going from one point to the other in our vehicles, such as dropping and picking up our children from school, driving to the grocery or to the office, that we rarely give a thought to the vehicular pollution choking our cities. When you are out on vacation or anytime during a weekend, have a ‘cycling’ outing. When the whole family rides bicycles together, it not only serves as a great bonding exercise, but it also teaches children about eco-friendly transportation options. You can tell them that bicycles are a green mode of travel and also make them aware of the environmental effect of automobiles run on fossil fuel.
4. Watch an environment film
Create a theatre-like experience at home on a Sunday and gather everyone in the family, especially the kids, to watch an informative film about environmental issues or climate change. Former US Vice President Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth is a great one to start with as it starkly portrays the destructive forces playing havoc on the environment. If you have slightly older children, you can discuss the film and ask them what they think.
5. Organise a power plant visit
Most children are not able to make the connection between electricity that powers the light bulbs and equipment in the house to a power plant that produces this electricity. Take your child for an outing that includes a power plant visit. Tell her how it directly impacts the environment, and educate her about renewable sources such as solar and wind energy that are eco-friendly alternatives.
Some important tips to create awareness
- Make your children aware that conservation of energy and sustainable living are not difficult things to do, and that simple, eco-friendly measures at home can make a difference.
- People are often under the impression that green living makes a dent in their pocket and is not affordable to everyone. On the contrary, energy conservation and embracing sustainability could probably be more simple and cost-effective in the long run. Children need to be made aware of this misconception and given the right information.
- Small efforts can make a huge impact, so you need to build confidence in children that the small steps that they take towards energy conservation can go a long way.
“ I cannot stand the thought of leaving my children with a degraded earth and a diminished future” – noted environmental activist Al Gore.
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