Strategies for teaching Environmental Education

The 3 Es

EXPLORE and acquire information

There are a number of strategies for teaching Environmental Education that can really make an impact. Let's explore some of these ways to enable children to learn the facts about climate change and environmental issues in exciting and interactive ways. I believe that empowering kids with knowledge is a key step towards building a sustainable future. So, let's dive right in and explore some awesome ways to acquire information and nurture their curious minds!

Dive into Books

children reading

    Books are magical gateways to knowledge. Encourage children to read books that explore climate change, sustainability, and environmental issues.

    Look for age-appropriate titles that present facts in a fun and engaging way. From picture books to informative non-fiction, there's a treasure trove of literature waiting to be explored. Spark their imagination and expand their understanding of the world through the power of words.

Online Exploration

girl on computer

The internet is a vast playground of information waiting to be discovered. Help children navigate this digital realm responsibly by guiding them towards reliable sources. Use of online tools can be one of the key strategies for teaching Environmental Education.

Encourage the children to research climate change and environmental issues online, exploring reputable websites, scientific articles, documentaries, art websites and educational platforms.

Teach them critical thinking skills to distinguish between reliable sources and misinformation.

Interviews and Guest Speakers

microphone interview

Bring learning to life by organizing interviews or inviting guest speakers who are experts in the field. This could be local environmentalists, scientists, or representatives from environmental organizations.

Allow children to ask questions, discuss their concerns, and learn directly from those actively working to address climate change and environmental issues. Personal stories and experiences can make a significant impact and inspire further learning and be one of the most powerful strategies for teaching Environmental Education.

Field Trips and Nature Walks

children walking in nature

Get out of the classroom and embark on exciting field trips and nature walks. Visit local parks, conservation areas, or even sustainable farms to observe the environment first hand.

Encourage children to take notes, ask questions, and engage with their surroundings. This hands-on experience will deepen their understanding and appreciation of the natural world.

There are a range of organisations which have ideas for field trips and nature-based activities and help to make connection to the outdoors one of the central strategies for teaching Environmental Education.

Role of the Teacher

teacher environmental education

You, as teachers play a crucial role in supporting children's acquisition of knowledge in the realm of climate change and environmental issues.

There is a debate about which is better - Incorporating environmental education topics into your curriculum through providing dedicated lessons or integrating them into various subjects. Either approach has its benefits.

Teachers have a crucial role as mentors, guiding children in their exploration and providing a safe space for open dialogue, taking care not to overwhelm children with either too much information or too startling information when they don't have the processing abilities to cope with it. Too much too soon could lead to eco-anxiety.

Remember, enabling children to learn about climate change and environmental issues is about empowering them with knowledge and nurturing their curiosity. By embracing diverse learning methods, involving teachers as mentors, and fostering an environment of exploration and discovery, we can inspire a generation of environmentally conscious individuals ready to tackle the challenges ahead. So, let's explore these strategies for teaching Environmental Education and embark on this exciting journey of learning together!

ENGAGE and deepen understanding

This section looks at deepening children's learning about climate change and environmental issues in a way that sparks their curiosity, captivates their imagination, and leaves them feeling inspired rather than stressed out or depressed. Let's dive right in and discover some fantastic ways to make learning about these important topics an exciting and empowering experience!

Focus on Positive Solutions

children we are the future

When it comes to climate change and environmental issues, it's important to highlight the positive solutions and actions being taken around the world.

Instead of dwelling solely on the problems, introduce children to inspiring stories of individuals, communities, and organizations that are making a real difference. Show them that there is hope and that they too can be a part of the solution.

Hands-on Experiences

gecko n boy pixabay

Nothing beats hands-on experiences when it comes to deepening learning and creating lasting memories. Encourage children to actively engage with the environment through nature hikes, gardening, or even volunteering for local conservation projects.

By experiencing the beauty of nature first hand and understanding the interconnectedness of ecosystems, they'll develop a sense of awe and a desire to protect our planet.

Using hands-on activities, such as making hedgehog houses or bird feeders, composting, or outdoor field trips to explore the natural world can provide them with a greater appreciation for the environment and a deeper understanding of ecological concepts.

Connect with Real-World Examples

butterfly on pink flower

Make the learning experience relatable by connecting it to real-world examples and current events. Share stories about young activists, environmental heroes, and successful conservation projects happening around the globe.

By showing children that they are not alone in their concerns and that their efforts can have a meaningful impact, they'll feel motivated and inspired to get involved.

Role-Plays and Simulations

Theatre masks

Students can learn about the impact of human actions on the environment by taking part in simulations or role-playing different scenarios, such as a town hall meeting to discuss a proposed development project.

This approach can be particularly effective for teaching topics such as ecosystems, biodiversity, or natural resource management.

Debate it!

girl debating environmental issues

Encouraging students to debate and discuss environmental issues can help them develop critical thinking skills and understand different perspectives. There are a range of online magazineswhich are helpful for keeping abreast of environmental topics and issues.

Project-based Learning

nature walk environmental education

Project-Based Learning: Engage children in project-based learning experiences that allow them to delve deeper into specific environmental issues.

Encourage them to choose a topic they are passionate about and guide them in conducting research, organizing their findings, and presenting their knowledge to others. Taking part in Citizen Science projects can be an excellent way of linking with others and being part of something bigger than just your classroom.

This approach fosters independent thinking, problem-solving skills, and a sense of ownership over their learning journey.

Games and Interactive Tools

virtual reality

Learning can be super fun when it involves games and interactive tools! Explore educational apps, online quizzes, and board games that focus on climate change and environmental issues. 

 Using technology, such as interactive maps or digital simulations, can enable pupils to understand complex environmental concepts or visualize environmental data.

These engaging resources make learning enjoyable and allow children to absorb information in a playful way. Plus, it encourages healthy competition, collaboration, and critical thinking skills.

Foster a Sense of Wonder and Appreciation

girl photographing nature

Help children develop a deep sense of wonder and appreciation for the natural world. Encourage them to explore the beauty of nature, observe its intricate details, and celebrate its diversity.

Organize activities like nature journaling, photography outings, bat-walks or stargazing nights. By fostering a connection and love for the environment, children will be driven to protect and care for it.

Creating their own butterfly feeders and bug hotels can be an active way of getting closer to the creatures and making more detailed observations.

Remember, learning about climate change and environmental issues doesn't have to be overwhelming or disheartening or lead to eco-anxiety. By approaching it in a positive, engaging, and empowering way, we can ignite a passion for the planet within children. Let's inspire them to become enthusiastic environmentalists, armed with knowledge and a determination to create a brighter and greener future for all!

EMPOWER through action

So let's now look at ways to empower kids to make a difference when it comes to climate change and environmental issues. We believe that no matter how small they may be, our little ones have the power to create big waves of change. So, let's dive right in and discover some awesome ways to get those eco-warrior vibes going!

Empower Children as Problem-Solvers

hedgehog in hands pixabay

Instead of overwhelming children with the enormity of the challenges, empower them as problem-solvers. Encourage their creative thinking and invite them to come up with innovative solutions to environmental issues.

Provide opportunities for children to brainstorm, design prototypes, and even present their ideas to others. By fostering a sense of agency and empowerment, they'll feel motivated to take action and make a difference.

Speak Up!

Plastic pollution

The first step in empowering children is to let them know that their opinions and ideas matter. Encourage them to speak up about climate change and environmental issues by participating in discussions, sharing their thoughts with friends and family, and even writing letters to local representatives or community leaders. Remind them that they have a voice that deserves to be heard!

Take Action Locally

Butterfly feeder

Empower your superheroes by helping them take action right in their own community. Whether it's organizing a neighbourhood clean-up, planting trees, or starting a recycling initiative at school, encourage them to lead the way and make a positive impact in their immediate surroundings.

Encouraging children to look at ways they can improve their school grounds, such as creating a pond to attract wildlife can give them an immediate sense of agency. Helping wildlife that is currently experiencing difficulties such as bees or butterflies can enable children to tackle a big problem in a manageable and satisfying way as they can see the progress they are making.

By showing them that they can make a difference in their own backyard, they'll feel empowered to take on bigger challenges in the future.

Support Sustainable Choices

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Empowerment comes from taking action in our daily lives. Teach children about sustainable choices, such as conserving energy and water, reducing waste, and choosing eco-friendly products. Involve them in household decisions, like switching to renewable energy sources or buying locally sourced products. Activities such as creating solar toy cars can help children see the impact of solar energy for themselves and help them understand the role solar energy can play in real life. There are many technological resources to help teachers devise great learning opportunities.

By actively participating in sustainable practices, they'll realize that their actions can have a positive impact on the planet.

Collaborate and Connect

collaborate team of people in circle

Encourage children to collaborate and connect with like-minded individuals who share their passion for the environment. Help them join or start environmental clubs at school, participate in community projects, or get involved with local organizations working towards sustainability.

By working together, they'll not only amplify their impact but also find support and inspiration from a community of change-makers. Linking with others can be one of the most impactful strategies for teaching Environmental Education in that it can enable children to feel part of something bigger - they may even keep the connections going into the future beyond school.

Celebrate Progress and Achievements

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Every step, no matter how small, deserves to be celebrated. Empower children by acknowledging their efforts and achievements in their journey to make a difference.

Create a space where they can share their wins, whether it's completing a conservation project, raising awareness among their peers, or influencing positive changes within their community. By celebrating their progress, you're fueling their motivation to keep going!

There are a number of awards and programmes schools can take part in. These can be a great way to work towards a goal and gain recognition of your efforts.

Remember, the power to make a difference lies within each and every one of us, regardless of age. By empowering children to take action on climate change and environmental issues, we're shaping a generation of leaders who will work towards a sustainable future. So let's engage with these strategies for teaching Environmental Education and cheer the children on, support their dreams, and watch as they transform the world into a greener, cleaner, and brighter place!

Reference: The Act model was inspired by the framework outlined in:  'A Framework for Environmental Education Strategies By M. Munroe and K. Beidenweg, Article  in  Applied Environmental Education and Communication An International Journal · 07.07

Programmes and Wider Strategies for Teaching Environmental Education

Eco Schools programme: tried and tested route to success 

The Eco-Schools programme is excellent for embedding environmental education into the curriculum. It has a range of topics, which include children in the decision making and actions across the school in a practical and workable way. The Eco Schools programme  contains excellent strategies for teaching environmental education within it, and with the support and guidance provided by the accreditation process it is a sure path to success.

DfE strategy : Developing the National Education Nature Park

Nadim Zahawi and others explain what the National Education Nature park will mean for schools. This ambitious project encompasses all of the schools within England and involves seeing all school grounds as part of a large national park. The main aim is to inspire teachers and pupils to see their actions as part of something larger and to realise the full impact of the environmental work they are doing.

Inspiration from around the world