Family 411 - Importance of natural study
More families are looking for ways to teach kids to care about their environment.
Our own Siouxland News "Family 411" reporter Lu Ann Stoia gets some ideas from an expert, who says learning respect and wonder of nature will help children throughout the rest of their lives.
An old proverb says, "show me and I will remember, involve me and I will understand."
Fins, scales or fur, parents say it's important children learn about something bigger than themselves.
"They are introduced to it through play, which is, I think, is really key," said Ashley Schnieders, who encourages environmental awareness.
"These animals that have fur are called mammals," said Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Senior Nature Instructor Carrie Hauck, talking to a group of children. "Can you guys say 'mammals?'"
Hauck says getting away from the screens and experiencing the environment makes kids happier, smarter and can even cut down on negative behavior, like bullying.
"So there is less time for kids to knit-pick at each other, because the goal, ultimately, is team work," said Hauck.
Showing young children the world is vast and different everywhere is one way to help them understand they're part of a global community.
Books about nature are good learning tools, and parents says they treasure the art projects that teach their kids about the world around them.
"I think, just in general, we are more inclined to help the things we are passionate about," said Amy Armelie, who encourages environmental learning.
The experts say, whether it's a zoo, a park or your own back yard, children need to connect with creatures.
"The more compassionate they become towards an animal and they want to conserve it," said Hauck.
From creativity to critical thinking, teachers say how families lay the groundwork for their kids has an impact on what's ahead for all of us.
"They are our future scientists, they are our field researchers," said Hauck. "They are having careers that are making a difference in the natural world."