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Make Just One Change Series: Teach Your Children to Value the Earth (And Get a Certificate for Doing

As an adult in your household, you have the power to change your family’s lifestyle. Your values become your children’s values.

I see it all the time as an elementary school teacher. “My mom says I don’t have to do homework on gymnastics days.” “My dad says to punch back when someone hits me.” “We don’t recycle in my house. It’s too much work.“ Your values are your children’s values (and, believe me, your secrets are not your secrets)!

If you’re a Wike Baby reader, you certainly value the natural environment and want your children to experience, appreciate, and protect it. You probably aim for environmental stewardship to be included in your family’s values. That’s why you’re taking my challenge to make just one change in your lifestyle that is better for the environment. (Right..???!)

While we have the power to singlehandedly make changes to our lifestyle that improve our family’s relationship with the earth, it’s even more valuable to get our children involved.

I challenge you to make it a family decision and gain buy-in from even the tiniest voices in your home. If you do so, your children will be more likely to help out. They will understand the crucial why behind the changes you make. Most importantly, the changes your family makes will be amplified by becoming reflective of your family’s values. You’ll be developing your children’s personal values.

To facilitate this family decision-making, I’ve made you a handy dandy checklist. I'm also giving you a way to make this both fun and "official" with a family pledge and the ability to earn a certificate with this download!

Here’s what to do at an upcoming family meal or meeting:

1. EXPLAIN. Explain the challenge: to celebrate Earth Day, your family will choose one change to make in your home that will help the earth. Ask them why they think helping the earth is important and share your own ideas.

This conversation can look different depending on the ages of your children. Take your children’s lead and build from their background knowledge. Especially with younger children, it is important to keep the conversation positive. Talk about what they like about the earth (watching the hummingbirds or climbing trees) and what they have seen around them (people throwing trash on the ground, people putting recyclables in the trash, kids hurting insects). Talking about environmental disasters or global warming can leave them (anyone, really) with an overwhelming feeling of despair, which you want to avoid—leave them with a feeling of empowerment instead!

2. EVALUATE. Complete the Make Just One Change family checklist together. Check off the things you already do and those that you could do. As a family, discuss some of the reasons why these changes would help the earth. Get the checklist here.

3. DISCUSS. Ask each family member for input. Which change should our family choose to make? What are the pros and cons of making each change? Do we want to choose something easy or difficult? Do we want to choose something free or costly? Do we want to choose something we can do in one weekend together or something we will do all the time?

4. COMMIT and SEND. When you settle on the change you’ll make, sign the commitment pledge (attached to the checklist). It will make your decision feel super formal to your children. Take a picture of the pledge and email it to me! Download the pledge here.

5. RESEARCH. Find out if any of your friends already do what you’re planning. Ask the librarian for books on the topic. Search online for tips. Make your children practice their reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills for this authentic purpose!

6. IMPLEMENT. As you implement your change, ask your children for ideas about how to make the change easier on everyone and how to make the change more impactful for the earth. Discuss, re-evaluate, and make changes as necessary.

7. CELEBRATE! If you sent me a photo of your pledge, I'll follow up with a fancy certificate for your family.

I hope that making just one change will inspire your family to forge even further into an environmentally friendly lifestyle. I know committing to one change has had ripple effects for me. Do it for the earth. For your children. For your values. And obviously, do it for the certificate!

We can all CHANGE something. What will your family CHANGE?

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