Big Energy Saving Week for little people
Kids won’t automatically think of Energy Saving Week when you ask them, “What’s going on between 31st October and 6th November 2016?” Toffee apples, spooky costumes and firework displays will probably spring to mind first. But this week of energy awareness is as important to them as it is to us adults.
Our children are the citizens of tomorrow and issues surrounding climate change and renewable resources aren’t going away anytime soon. So it’s wise to teach them about energy and energy efficiency, alongside the vital stuff, like manners, road safety and money skills.
Kids clued up on energy efficiency will not only make your fuel bills cheaper, but it will also encourage a new generation of sustainability champions.
Here are 5 ways to teach children to be more energy conscious:
- Lead by example
Children tend to look up to their parents but it’s easy to underestimate just how much they mimic our actions. You only have to watch them playing house, or copying mum or dad getting ready in the bathroom in the morning, to see how easily they absorb everything we do.
Our daily habits rub off on our kids whether we realise it or not, so you can’t expect them to be better with energy if you’re guilty of leaving lights on when you leave the room, or putting the TV on standby at night. Set a good example by practicing good energy habits yourself, and your children will come to understand that it’s simply something people do.
- Start early
The hardest habits to break are the ones we’ve had for the longest time, so get your kids into good energy habits from the get-go. Just as it’s second nature to remind them to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, and to look both ways when crossing the road, reinforce energy-saving behaviours, such as turning lights off when they leave the room, from an early age.
- Make it fun
Children learn best through fun and games, so turn teaching into family fun that everyone can enjoy. Make environmentally friendly activities part of play time and teach them about the science of energy through fun experiments (here are five great activity suggestions to get you started).
Make a point of going screen-free regularly, too. Read stories out loud, play board games or go for a long walk outdoors – show your kids that you don’t need to be plugged in to have a good time.
- Make it motivational
Involving children in a family effort will help them feel responsible and trusted, which will encourage them to pitch in further, but you need to consistently reinforce the message so their attention doesn’t wander.
Create a sticker chart and add a sticker every time your child remembers to turn off the lights or TV without being asked (and never underestimate the power of competition between siblings!). Once they’ve reached a certain number of stickers you could reward their good behaviour with a small treat, such as extra play time or letting them off the hook with certain chores. And encourage them to share their energy-saving knowledge with their friends – it’ll make them feel good about what they’re doing.
- Keep the conversation going
Children are naturally curious and every parent knows how much their little ones love the word ‘why’! As you introduce the topic of energy to your everyday actions and conversations, kids are bound to ask questions, so be prepared to answer them as best you can.
Make the issue of energy and the environment part of everyday living. For example, talk about food packaging when you’re at the supermarket and why it’s important to use as little as possible. When you’re in the car, talk about fuel efficient driving, or better yet, walk instead and take the time to help your kids understand why that’s good for the environment. By explaining your green actions and behaviours you’ll pique their interest in energy efficiency and they’ll naturally want to learn even more.