Teaching Young Children about the Environment

How do you teach children, especially young children, about the environment in a way that connects them and instills in them the importance of good practices, but doesn’t scare them? After all, global warming and specters of rising tides and stranded polar bears can be rather frightening for anyone.

Teachers from Westchester County and the tri-state area met from July 9-13 for the 2007 Child Development Institute’s Empowering Teachers Program at Sarah Lawrence College to focus on ways to bring environmental issues into the classroom.

“Kids are bombarded with environmental messages,” says Dr. Jan Drucker, director of the program. “Teachers need guidance on how to think about the environment, how to make the teaching of it a positive, meaningful, classroom experience.”

The week-long workshop included a lecture by nationally recognized scholar and author David T. Sobel, whose publications include Beyond Ecophobia: Reclaiming The Heart in Nature Education. Working group sessions, led by local educators and activists, included such topics as “Garbology 101: Learning from Litter and Searching for Storm Drains” and “Sharing Nature’s Magic: Taking a Closer Look at the World Around Us.”

"The program is not driven by standardized curricula but rather by the exploration of meaningful experiences and reflections on educational practice in a supportive collegial setting,” says Dr. Drucker. Participants in the program teach pre-school through middle school children.

Through its outreach to teachers, parents, administrators and child development professionals the Sarah Lawrence Child Development Institute communicates the College’s progressive education ideology and provides a forum for the discussion of issues in education.

Note: Representatives of the news media are invited to observe the sessions and/or interview Dr. Drucker and participating teachers.