5 Ways To Teach Children About Climate Change

5 Ways To Teach Children About Climate Change Discuss how flying less could help the planet. Shutterstock

Schools around the world have closed in reponse to the COVID-19 pandemic, so many families are finding themselves thrust into homeschooling. Parents are figuring out how to teach their children subjects like mathematics and grammar, while also juggling other commitments, all within the cramped spaces of self-isolation.

Climate change is an interdisciplinary subject that both school children and adults think is important. And as we deal with the current crisis – which is also having its own effects on the environment – there is perhaps no better time to think about how to avoid the next, potentially even greater one.

Despite this, a recent survey found that 75% of teachers don’t feel they have adequate training to educate students about climate change, so homeschooling parents might feel even more out of their depth. But the emerging field of climate change education offers a few key lessons on how to teach learners of all ages.

1. Talk about it

According to climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe, the most important thing you can do to fight climate change is talk about it. As public awareness of climate change has grown – thanks in part to Greta Thunberg and the school climate strikes – many children will have picked up some information from the news and in the classroom, and so a good place to start is by listening to what they already know and think, and hear their questions and concerns. You don’t have to be an expert to talk about this issue, and learn with your children. But by not talking about climate change, especially the powerful emotions it can provoke, misinformation and eco-anxiety may take root.

5 Ways To Teach Children About Climate Change Discuss the wider world outside. Shutterstock

2. Use age-appropriate materials

Back in 1996, environmental educator David Sobel coined the term ecophobia to describe the fear and powerlessness of young children when faced with abstract, distant environmental problems such as the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. When teaching about climate change, don’t scare your children or share information that might overwhelm them. For example, a documentary that starkly presents the destructive power of climate change in terms of flooding and wildfires probably isn’t a good thing to share with someone in primary school.

There are excellent educational resources that incorporate both childhood development and the formal curriculum for different aged learners. As with any information online, always be sure that you are using reliable sources, such as government agencies, academic institutions, and trusted educational charities. You don’t want to inadvertently spread misinformation.

3. Focus on hope (but not optimism)

Swedish researcher Maria Ojala has extensively studied the role of hope in climate change education. Parents naturally want to make sure their kids stay hopeful about the future, even when faced with serious threats such as climate change or a global pandemic.

But Ojala makes an important distinction between optimism – an uncritical, passive certainty that everything will be alright – and constructive hope, in which we all work together to shape a better future. Constructive hope is an invitation to learners to re-imagine the future and rise to the challenge of our time.

The empowering lens of constructive hope allows us to move beyond climate science and engage with both mitigation – the actions we can take individually and collectively to decrease global heating – and adaptation – the creation of more resilient communities and societies in the face of a changing world.

4. Good climate education is good education

A recent systematic review found that climate change education was most effective when it focused on personally relevant and meaningful information and used active and engaging teaching methods. In other words, climate change education works when it employs the strategies of good education, regardless of the subject.

5 Ways To Teach Children About Climate Change Looking is learning. Shutterstock

This research also identified a few themes specific to climate education: engage in deliberative discussions, interact with scientists, address misconceptions, and implement community projects. So, when learning at home, you can listen to podcasts of scientists, debunk climate myths, and get your hands dirty with a project in your home or garden.

5. Look outside

One of the most important things you can do as a parent is go outside with your children – as long as the current COVID-19 guidance in your country allows it. Explore any patches of nature you can access, even if that’s in your garden, and if you are stuck inside, observe the signs of spring and listen to the birdsong outside your window.

Ecologists are concerned that the “extinction of experience” of a younger generation with little direct contact with nature will only exacerbate the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss. The antidote to eco-anxiety is spending time in nature, which has mental health benefits for children and teenagers.

Research has found that parents play an important role in helping children cope with climate change and shift from victims to change agents. If you are homeschooling because of coronavirus, you probably have your hands full getting through the day. But engaging positively with the subject of climate change, especially through the lens of constructive hope, is a way for you to teach science, geography, and many other subjects, while shaping a more just, sustainable world after COVID-19.The Conversation

About The Author

William Finnegan, PhD Candidate, University of Oxford

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Related Books

Climate Change: What Everyone Needs to Know

by Joseph Romm
0190866101The essential primer on what will be the defining issue of our time, Climate Change: What Everyone Needs to Know® is a clear-eyed overview of the science, conflicts, and implications of our warming planet. From Joseph Romm, Chief Science Advisor for National Geographic's Years of Living Dangerously series and one of Rolling Stone's "100 people who are changing America," Climate Change offers user-friendly, scientifically rigorous answers to the most difficult (and commonly politicized) questions surrounding what climatologist Lonnie Thompson has deemed "a clear and present danger to civilization.". Available On Amazon

Climate Change: The Science of Global Warming and Our Energy Future second edition Edition

by Jason Smerdon
0231172834This second edition of Climate Change is an accessible and comprehensive guide to the science behind global warming. Exquisitely illustrated, the text is geared toward students at a variety of levels. Edmond A. Mathez and Jason E. Smerdon provide a broad, informative introduction to the science that underlies our understanding of the climate system and the effects of human activity on the warming of our planet.Mathez and Smerdon describe the roles that the atmosphere and ocean play in our climate, introduce the concept of radiation balance, and explain climate changes that occurred in the past. They also detail the human activities that influence the climate, such as greenhouse gas and aerosol emissions and deforestation, as well as the effects of natural phenomena.  Available On Amazon

The Science of Climate Change: A Hands-On Course

by Blair Lee, Alina Bachmann
194747300XThe Science of Climate Change: A Hands-On Course uses text and eighteen hands-on activities to explain and teach the science of global warming and climate change, how humans are responsible, and what can be done to slow or stop the rate of global warming and climate change. This book is a complete, comprehensive guide to an essential environmental topic. Subjects covered in this book include: how molecules transfer energy from the sun to warm the atmosphere, greenhouse gases, the greenhouse effect, global warming, the Industrial Revolution, the combustion reaction, feedback loops, the relationship between weather and climate, climate change, carbon sinks, extinction, carbon footprint, recycling, and alternative energy. Available On Amazon

From The Publisher:
Purchases on Amazon go to defray the cost of bringing you InnerSelf.comelf.com, MightyNatural.com, and ClimateImpactNews.com at no cost and without advertisers that track your browsing habits. Even if you click on a link but don't buy these selected products, anything else you buy in that same visit on Amazon pays us a small commission. There is no additional cost to you, so please contribute to the effort. You can also use this link to use to Amazon at any time so you can help support our efforts.

 

enafarzh-CNzh-TWdanltlfifrdeiwhihuiditjakomsnofaplptruesswsvthtrukurvi

follow InnerSelf on

facebook-icontwitter-iconrss-icon

 Get The Latest By Email

{emailcloak=off}

EVIDENCE

Marine Heat Waves Are Becoming More Common And Intense
Marine Heat Waves Are Becoming More Common And Intense
by Jen Monnier, Enisa
Improved “weather forecasts” for oceans hold hope for reducing devastation to fisheries and ecosystems around the world
Five Climate Disbeliefs: A Crash Course In Climate Misinformation
The Five Climate Disbeliefs: A Crash Course In Climate Misinformation
by John Cook
This video is a crash course in climate misinformation, summarizing the key arguments used to cast doubt on the reality…
Arctic Warming: Are Record Temperatures And Fires Arriving Earlier Than Scientists Predicted?
Arctic Warming: Are Record Temperatures and Fires Arriving Earlier Than Scientists Predicted?
by Christopher J White
It was a grim record. On June 20 2020, the mercury reached 38°C in Verkhoyansk, Siberia – the hottest it’s ever been in…
We Mapped The World's Frozen Peatlands And What We Found Was Very Worrying
We Mapped The World's Frozen Peatlands And What We Found Was Very Worrying
by Gustaf Hugelius
Peatlands cover just a few percent of the global land area but they store almost one-quarter of all soil carbon and so…
Will The Climate Warm As Much As Feared By Some?
Will The Climate Warm As Much As Feared By Some?
by Steven Sherwood et al
We know the climate changes as greenhouse gas concentrations rise, but the exact amount of expected warming remains…
Methane Emissions Hit Record Breaking Levels
Methane Emissions Hit Record Breaking Levels
by Josie Garthwaite
Global emissions of methane have reached the highest levels on record, research shows.
What The World Was Like The Last Time Carbon Dioxide Levels Were At 400ppm
What The World Was Like The Last Time Carbon Dioxide Levels Were At 400ppm
by James Shulmeister
The last time global carbon dioxide levels were consistently at or above 400 parts per million (ppm) was around four…
What An Ocean Hidden Under Antarctic Ice Reveals About Our Planet's Future Climate
What An Ocean Hidden Under Antarctic Ice Reveals About Our Planet's Future Climate
by Craig Stevens and Christina Hulbe
Jules Verne sent his fictional submarine, the Nautilus, to the South Pole through a hidden ocean beneath a thick ice…

LATEST VIDEOS

Five Climate Disbeliefs: A Crash Course In Climate Misinformation
The Five Climate Disbeliefs: A Crash Course In Climate Misinformation
by John Cook
This video is a crash course in climate misinformation, summarizing the key arguments used to cast doubt on the reality…
The Arctic Hasn't Been This Warm For 3 Million Years and That Means Big Changes For The Planet
The Arctic Hasn't Been This Warm For 3 Million Years and That Means Big Changes For The Planet
by Julie Brigham-Grette and Steve Petsch
Every year, sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean shrinks to a low point in mid-September. This year it measures just 1.44…
What Is A Hurricane Storm Surge and Why Is It So Dangerous?
What Is A Hurricane Storm Surge and Why Is It So Dangerous?
by Anthony C. Didlake Jr
As Hurricane Sally headed for the northern Gulf Coast on Tuesday, September 15, 2020, forecasters warned of a…
Ocean Warming Threatens Coral Reefs and Soon Could Make It Harder To Restore Them
Ocean Warming Threatens Coral Reefs and Soon Could Make It Harder To Restore Them
by Shawna Foo
Anyone who’s tending a garden right now knows what extreme heat can do to plants. Heat is also a concern for an…
Sunspots Do Affect Our Weather But Not As Much As Other Things
Sunspots Do Affect Our Weather But Not As Much As Other Things
by Robert McLachlan
Are we headed for a period with lower Solar activity, i.e. sunspots? How long will it last? What happens to our world…
Dirty Tricks Climate Scientists Faced In Three Decades Since First IPCC Report
Dirty Tricks Climate Scientists Faced In Three Decades Since First IPCC Report
by Marc Hudson
Thirty years ago, in a small Swedish city called Sundsvall, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)…
Methane Emissions Hit Record Breaking Levels
Methane Emissions Hit Record Breaking Levels
by Josie Garthwaite
Global emissions of methane have reached the highest levels on record, research shows.
kelp forrest 7 12
How The Forests Of The World’s Oceans Contribute To Alleviating The Climate Crisis
by Emma Bryce
Researchers are looking to kelp for help storing carbon dioxide far beneath the surface of the sea.

LATEST ARTICLES

God Intended It As A Disposable Planet: Meet The Us Pastor Preaching Climate Change Denial
God Intended It As A Disposable Planet: Meet The Us Pastor Preaching Climate Change Denial
by Paul Braterman
Every so often you come across a piece of writing so extraordinary that you cannot help but share it. One such piece is…
Drought And Heat Together Menace American West
Drought And Heat Together Menace American West
by Tim Radford
Climate change really is a burning issue. Simultaneous drought and heat are increasingly likely for more of the…
China Just Stunned The World With Its Step-up On Climate Action
China Just Stunned The World With Its Step-up On Climate Action
by Hao Tan
China’s President Xi Jinping surprised the global community recently by committing his country to net-zero emissions by…
How Do Climate Change, Migration And A Deadly Disease In Sheep Alter Our Understanding Of Pandemics?
How Do Climate Change, Migration And A Deadly Disease In Sheep Alter Our Understanding Of Pandemics?
by Super User
A new framework for pathogen evolution exposes a world much more vulnerable to disease outbreaks than we previously…
Climate Heat Melts Arctic Snows And Dries Forests
What Lies Ahead For The Youth Climate Movement
by David Tindall
Students around the world returned to the streets in late September for a global day of climate action for the first…
Historic Amazon Rainforest Fires Threaten Climate And Raise Risk Of New Diseases
Historic Amazon Rainforest Fires Threaten Climate And Raise Risk Of New Diseases
by Kerry William Bowman
The fires in the Amazon region in 2019 were unprecedented in their destruction. Thousands of fires had burned more than…
Climate heat melts Arctic snows and dries forests
Climate Heat Melts Arctic Snows And Dries Forests
by Tim Radford
Fires now blaze under Arctic snows, where once even the wettest rainforests burned. Climate change delivers unlikely…
Marine Heat Waves Are Becoming More Common And Intense
Marine Heat Waves Are Becoming More Common And Intense
by Jen Monnier, Enisa
Improved “weather forecasts” for oceans hold hope for reducing devastation to fisheries and ecosystems around the world