Contributed by Deeksha Chopra, director of Garden for India in New Delhi
Edible Routes has been conducting a 6-month long environmental education program for Grade 3 and Grade 4 school kids. The program involved educating the kids about prevailing environmental issues and, in the process, connecting them to nature through hands-on experience and outdoor learning classes.
The objective of our teaching is to connect children with nature, therefore we focused on conducting outdoor learning sessions and hand-on learning activities for the kids. We as a team believe that the more time kids spend outdoors the better they become–mentally, physically and emotionally.
There are various research studies that reveal connecting kids to nature is best way to nurture them and also it is the only way we can protect the environment. The children that spend more time outdoors working with soil and plants are more sensitive toward their surroundings and develop a sense of belonging and appreciation of environment as they grow up.
Our 16- week long sessions included gardening basics for Grade 3 kids and water conservation and waste management for Grade 4.
I have been involved in teaching kids about waste and water management and their role in environment protection with the prevailing issues in our urban areas. On any day in the class, we would highlight a practice that relates to our natural environment or something that kids experience in their everyday life. This was helpful in connecting them to nature as it arose curiosity and a sense of exploration about their natural surroundings.
We taught about conservations practices in terms of reducing waste, reusing materials and saving water. Conserving water and managing your home waste is an essential part of our everyday life. These practices are a step toward environmental consciousness and should be inculcated in everyone at young age.
With this school program, we not only taught kids about the everyday conservation practices but also how water falling on the ground can be saved too using simple techniques, how waste can be segregated at home, and how kitchen waste can be used to make compost. We talked about drip irrigation system and how constructing swales on a farmland can recharge groundwater, promote soil health and reduce surface water runoff, thus preventing water pollution.