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3296 Views 2 Replies Last post: Oct 3, 2010 9:30 AM by Gambit RSS
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Sep 23, 2010 10:20 PM

How do I explain biodiversity and its importance to a 6-year-old?

I understand why biodiversity is important and the necessity to preserve/maintain it, but what extending this understanding to the next generation?
  • Perhaps the first goal is to help the children appreciate and enjoy biodiversity.  From this, hopefully, valuing biodiversity and more adult awareness will follow in due time.  One can approach biodiversity issues as a purely intellectual matter, but for most of us any subject needs more than that: a real interest, and an emotionally-engaged background, helps us come to grips with it.  This is really what you want to allow the children to develop.  I say ‘allow’; my own children, and children I’ve worked with in schools, love getting involved with the natural world around them (although I did put a stop to my younger daughter’s snail-licking experiments).  Six-year olds (well, all of us) love stories, and biodiversity is a great source of stories.  Take them out into your garden, or the nearest park, and talk to them about what’s around you.  The squirrels are still collecting nuts and burying them all over the place.  Moths are still out there at dusk feeding on nectar from flowers.  Leaves on plants are still arranged and angled to catch the maximum of light.  There are stories all around us, and what’s more they are stories that show how different organisms interact and form the interlocking environment.  I’ve taken primary school parties out on nature walks collecting (and releasing!) insects, and found that they all want to ‘hold the cuckoo-spit bug’.  Not only did they enjoy the experience, but I enjoyed getting the letters from them illustrated with their impressions of what we’d seen.  Schools of course can play a huge part in teaching children about biodiversity, and are often very pleased to have help from parents; perhaps ask your children’s school how the children learn about biodiversity (or as we used to call it, ‘natural history’ or ‘nature’), and how you can help, either in school or at home.
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    • I would like to just point out how true all of ChrisLyals points are. I was fortunate enough to be taken out and told such stories about nature and given real hands on experience with the natural world when I was a six year old by my school and family. All of these experiences, which were strikingly similar to the ones listed, really did strike a keen interest and passion within me, which I still carry today. I am about to begin my degree in biodiversity and conservation and feel humble introductions to the subject as a child have led me and fuelled me to where I am today, as I continue to push myself into a position where I can one day make a difference. Being introduced to nature as a young child really can make a huge impact on how you view the natural world and then go on to treat it.

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