Quick tips and ideas for getting little ones to participate in and explore the natural environment
At some point, toddlers outgrow the phase where they want to lick, bite, chew, and taste everything. When your child reaches this point, she is all set for her introduction to your garden and composting bins. It is also the time when these tiny grown-ups start showing a great interest in adult routines and habits, so that’s a great starting point for a lifelong love of organic things. If the idea of your child shoving her fingers into your compost bin is a little daunting, though, here are simpler ways to live a green life together.
1.Watering Plants – If there is a small bottle with a tight lid in your home, make tiny holes in the lid to create a watering can for your little one. Talk to her about watering plants appropriately, and show her how much water is sufficient for each plant. You could even use it as an opportunity to talk about hunger and thirst, and healthy eating habits. There may be a learning curve and you might have to step in to prevent tiny coriander shoots from drowning in a sea of enthusiastic watering, but in a few days, you will have a cheerful comrade-in-arms, who will even remind you to water the plants after a hot day.
2.Segregation – Kids are really a lot more sensible than many adults. If you teach your toddler that plastics and paper belong in separate bins, you will see tiny hands moving with great commitment towards the correct disposal container (even after opening a birthday gift). Be prepared for about 300 million questions (or the same question repeated endlessly), and for furious Internet use to answer her questions. As a happy side effect, you may find yourself becoming a super well-informed adult as well. Your child will never really forget her lessons and she won’t let you slip up, either!
3.Preparing Kitchen Waste – Depending on your child’s comfort (and your patience) on a particular day, you could give her the job of removing the seeds from a slice of melon, or ask her to place the peels and rinds in a small bowl before you put it in the composting bin. You could even ask her to separate the leaves and the stalks of green leafy vegetables. My son loves using a spatula as a ‘knife’, to chop the thick stems into smaller pieces so that the earthworms can eat them quickly.
4.Planting Seeds – When I went through a phase of supplementing my child’s food with formula, I collected a large number of tin containers. These are now the mainstay of my son’s kitchen garden and he is growing small methi and coriander plants. He was thrilled when he got the chance to put small seeds into those planters and was extremely particular about planting them at the right depth. He also watches with great curiosity when I remove weeds.