There’s no hiding from the fact that our planet is in trouble. Global warming is slowly causing the polar ice caps to melt, whilst plastic is polluting the oceans and travelling up the food chain. Sustainability is the buzz word of the 21st century, with many people striving to make eco-friendly choices to protect the planet.
One day, our children will be independent decision-makers. What we are teaching them today will undoubtably influence their future day-to-day choices and their eco-friendly habits. Teaching your child how to lead to sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle will help them to take responsibility for their actions and contribute towards a healthier planet.
Is Montessori a sustainable parenting philosophy?
Maria Montessori strongly believed that we should raise our children in the most natural way possible, whilst maintaining a strong connection with nature. In fact, she was quoted as saying:
"The land is where our roots are. The children must be taught to feel and live
in harmony with the Earth." - Maria Montessori
The Montessori education is centred around immersing the child in life so that they learn naturally. By immersing your child in your own efforts to live sustainably and explaining why you make the choices that you do, your child will naturally develop a love for their planet and begin to take care of it in their own way.
Here are our top tips for raising your children sustainably whilst following Montessori philosophies:
Spend time outdoors
The best way to encourage a love for the environment is to spend time outside exploring nature. Taking your child for a walk in the woods, talking about the types of trees and plants and searching for minibeasts can help them to appreciate the beauty of the world around them and want to support it.
Spending time outdoors can also be hugely beneficial for your child’s development. For example, climbing trees is great for developing gross motor skills, whilst balancing rocks or picking fruits helps to refine fine motor skills. It also helps to stimulate creativity, independence and collaborative play.
Consider using cloth nappies
With an estimated three billion nappies sent to landfill every year in the UK alone, it’s easy to see the impact that using disposable nappies is having on our environment. Add into the mix the fact that it takes a nappy around 500 years to degrade and you begin to see the scale of the issue.
Many people associate cloth nappies with high levels of water wastage. Washing three loads of reusable nappies per week uses around 200 litres of water. This may seem high but compared to the estimated 1,550 litres of water it takes to manufacture a week’s supply of disposable nappies, cloth is the clear choice.
Using cloth nappies from birth also helps your child to develop awareness of their toilet habits as they feel wet immediately. This immediate feedback helps the child to make the connection between the urge to urinate and the release of the muscles. This can help your child to move on from nappies much earlier than if they were wearing disposable nappies.
Breastfeed your baby
Breastfeeding is a great way of creating a strong bond between mother and child, but it’s also a very effective method of reducing your environmental impact.
The BMJ highlights the environmental impact of formula feeding, quoting that breastfeeding for the first six months of your child’s life will reduce your carbon emissions by between 95kg and 153kg when compared to a formula fed baby. If all babies in the UK were breastfed for six months, the carbon emission saving would be equivalent to taking between 50,000 and 77,500 cars off the road each year.
Not every mother is able to or wants to breastfeed, and it needs to be an individual choice. However, if you’re looking to reduce your environmental impact when raising your children, it’s worth giving breastfeeding a chance.
Spend time gardening
Getting your child involved in gardening is a fantastic way to bring them closer to nature whilst teaching them about life sciences. Whether it’s creating a home garden, watching seeds grow or planting a new tree, you can teach your child about the environment and help them to foster a love of nature.
You can also begin to teach your child about where their food comes from by growing vegetables, fruit and herbs. Try creating a small vegetable patch in your garden and get your child involved with planting seeds, watering the plants, harvesting the crops and finally cooking meals with their produce.
Get your child involved
The Montessori approach to raising your child is all about getting them involved with your daily life. Encouraging your child to help with recycling is a brilliant way to begin to teach them about living sustainably. Most children love to get involved with identifying waste as paper, tin, glass or plastic, helping to put items in the correct bins.
You could also join a local community litter picking project where your child can get involved with protecting local wildlife whilst taking pride in the area they live.
Choose wooden toys
Plastic toys often feature lights and sound effects, making them an appealing choice to parents. However, wooden toys encourage children to use their imagination, sparking their natural curiosity and helping them to develop new skills.
Aside from the developmental benefits of choosing wooden toys, they are also the sustainable choice when compared to plastic toys. This is due to the biodegradable nature of wood and its ability to be recycled. When you choose wooden toys for your child, you are playing your part in protecting the planet whilst sharing your sustainable values with your child.
Raising your child with minimal environmental impact
It’s entirely possible to raise your child with a low impact on the environment. In fact, the Montessori approach encourages a natural and sustainable lifestyle. There are many things that you can do to maximise your sustainability whilst ultimately raising your child to be a conscientious citizen who respects their planet.