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Talking to Our Kids About Climate Change

Teacher and kids examining plant

Probably the most controversial topic there is at the moment. Climate change is such a hot topic and it’s something our kids want to know and understand more about.

The problem with having a conversation with our kids about climate change is the fact that it’s even hard for us to wrap our heads around. So, how exactly do you go about it without overwhelming both your kids and yourself?

Here’s some basic ideas to break down climate change into manageable chunks to show your children how they can become part of the solution.

Explaining the science

In order to understand climate change, you must first understand the atmosphere. It's a case of explaining to your kid that the atmosphere surrounds the Earth like a BIG bubble. That bubble is what protects us from harmful rays coming from the Sun in space. 

The atmosphere also contains what we call greenhouse gases which also includes the very air we breathe (oxygen). The other gases within our atmosphere are there to help maintain the correct temperature.

One of the problems we’ve been facing is we’ve been releasing a lot more greenhouse gases over the last 150 years. This also shows no signs of decreasing any time soon. 

It’s a really good idea to ask your kid to list everything they know that needs power, such as cars, planes, fridges, lights etc, etc. Then you could explain to them where that power comes from. For example, natural gas stations, burning coal and oil. 

All of these processes release toxic gases into our atmosphere. You can then get your kid to imagine what we used to do before we invented ways of producing power so they can understand why the level of greenhouse gases has increased so much.

Now, depending on how deep your kid thinks about this, they’re probably wondering what all the fuss is about since the atmosphere naturally releases gases into the atmosphere. 

The best way to get them to imagine what’s happening up there, is using the shower analogy. What happens in your bathroom when you take a hot shower and don’t leave the door or window open. What happens in that room when all the steam is trapped? 

What happens in that room is exactly what happens, but, on a larger scale up in the atmosphere. When this happens, the planet’s temperature starts to increase and gets warmer. As the planet gets warmer, the climate changes.

Explaining the Problem

Climate is the pattern of changing weather patterns and conditions over a number of years.

To get your kids to imagine the rate of change, you could get them to think of their own home town or city. What is the weather like at different times of the year? 

Is it cold in December, January, wet in March April and hot and dry in August?

This is a great way for them to imagine what the climate is like and what happens to the weather during that month every year.

You could explain to them that our climate is like nature’s own clock. People on earth rely on it to make decisions about when to grow food and harvest and animals rely on it so they know when to mate, migrate and also find food. 

But, what would happen if that clock changed? Go ahead and ask your kid what would happen if you sent them to school at midnight? 

Would they be able to go through the school gates, would the doors be open and what about the cafeteria for something to it? Oh, and would they be awake or really sleepy at that time of night/morning.

This would explain to your kid just how messed up things would be with the climate if such a simple decision was made. Just think if it got hot at the wrong time of the year and there was a lack of rainfall just before harvest? 

It would make it extremely hard for our farmers to grow crops, animals to find food and there would likely be several floods and wildfires depending on the terrain and vegetation of that particular area. 

We haven’t even spoken about the worst that could happen. We’re talking about the melting of polar ice caps and a raised sea level essentially wiping out millions of acres of land and vegetation.

Also, that brings more moisture in the air. This would inevitably lead to fiercer snowstorms which are virtually impossible to control.

Explaining The Solution

At this point you’re probably thinking twice about introducing this topic to your kids, and to be honest we really don’t blame you. It can be quite a deep and sometimes demoralising topic. 

However, it’s such an important one to bring up with your kids. To make them aware at such a young age bodes well for the future of humanity. 

By providing this education to our kids we are basically empowering them. They will also feel like they can be part of the solution as members of the human race.

To really get the ball rolling, you could challenge your kid to try and use less power every day. You could encourage them to switch the lights off when they leave a room, unplug chargers if they aren’t using an electrical device anymore and also encourage them to walk or ride to school instead of getting a lift each day.

You can also encourage them to go green. Getting them in the garden, helping you plant and manage flowers and even vegetables would be great as a regular family activity and also to get them involved.

Explain to them that by planting more trees, shrubs and flowers we help to decrease the level of CO2 or carbon dioxide of escaping. You can also suggest that they tell their friends or ask the teacher’s at school for information on the topic.

The idea isn’t to teach them absolutely everything to do with climate change, but to provide them with an introductory window into this world we live in and how we can all learn to protect it.

Check out this article - RiiRoo Garden Scavenger Hunt


A few days ago we shared - RiiRoo Lockdown Kids Activity Sheets which should keep your kids occupied while they are stuck in doors.

Today go ahead and grab our “FREE” Garden Scavenger Hunt PDF printable list for your kids to use if you have a garden or close outdoor space. This will probably take them 45 minutes to an hour to complete.

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