Preschool at Home: Teaching Ecology to Your Children
Preschools are a great resource for many parents. However, as parents look to save money and get more “bang for their buck” many are looking for ways to teach preschool at home. Teaching preschool concepts at home not only will save you money or allow you to spend money on specific experiences, but will allow you to focus on your child’s interests. Ecology is a great concept for children to learn at an early age. Ecology is full of opportunities to get out of the house, learn new skills and create interest in the world around us.
What is Ecology?
Ecology is basically the study of organisms in their natural environment. That means studying bugs and other critters in nature and not just in zoos, exhibits and museums. This will allow you to get out and explore nature in your community which will both lend to exploration and discovery opportunities for you and your child.
Bugs and Critters Oh My!!!
Some of the greatest adventures we can have are right in our own backyard. Turn over a rock, lift up that old board that has been laying in the grass for days and see what has taken up refuge underneath. Kids love the idea that something that cool is right there in their own space.
You can make a list of what you find and take pictures to create a “my backyard” book for kids to share with friends and family. Buy an inexpensive magnifying glass for kids to see up close with out inter fearing with the critters first hand. You can talk about size, color, shape and type of bugs your see. This will also allow you to create open conversations about what the little guys are doing under that log and how we should respect all living creatures. You will want to observe, not catch bugs, slugs and other critters that you come across to properly teach the concepts of ecology.
Take a Field Trip
Visit a nature preserve or even go to your local park to see what discoveries you can uncover in your community. If you are lucky enough to live near a national park or a ranger station, you may be able to participate in a program for parents and children. The United States Forest Service has a great section on their website for children to begin learning the concepts of ecology and forestry.
Plant a Garden
Plan and plant a garden with your children. If you don’t have the space, you can easily grow tomatoes in pots or even create a beautiful flower garden. Teach your children about how things grow and what different types of plants need to grow and flourish (think sunlight, water and nutrients). This will also teach them to be responsible for something as they learn to care and “tend” to a garden.
Conservation is a concept that has been lost in many of our lives. From composting to creating natural deterrents for critters, these concepts can teach respect for the world around us as well as how to create a more natural environment for everyone. Learning about organic options for growing foods is also an important concept in the area of conservation.
There is a lot to learn right in our own backyards!!!! So gather your kids and your kids’ friends and start digging the earth’s wonders. Trust me, it’s a good experience.
United States Forest Service
Natural Resources Conservation Services