Knowledge Is Power: The Importance of Environmental Education in Schools

If you’ve ever watched an episode of Little House on the Prairie or The Waltons, when it came to the kids, if there’s one thing that didn’t need to be a concern, it was when it came to the importance of environmental education. The children usually walked (miles) to school, fished as a form of entertainment and when it came to farming, it was a something that was considered to be a household activity.

We are light years away from that now. In many ways, that’s a good thing, but in others, it has cost us. One of the main reasons that people are becoming more and more concerned for today’s youth is that technology has consumed many kids to the point of them obsessing over their cell phones, tablets and Facebook accounts. Matter of fact, one study cited that while many children spend as much as six hours per day either in front of a TV or computer screen, in turn, the only spent about four minutes a day outside (walking to and from their bus stop, no doubt).

Yet, because we all live in the environment and rely on it for so many things as it relates to our own well-being, it’s vital that kids are taught about the importance of environmental education. Here are three reasons why.

It separates (environmental) facts from fiction. Did you know that over 45 million adults believe that our oceans is our main source for fresh water and that over 130 million of them believe that hydropower is the top energy source for those living within the United States? Some may not feel like it’s a big deal to be misinformed about this kind of information unless you’re competing on Jeopardy, but the fact is that it’s hard to expect tomorrow’s generation to be eco-friendly if they don’t have the proper information as it relates to how to keep the environment thriving.

It causes them to excel in several subjects. Several studies have cited that when a child regularly participates in environmental education, whether in class via various online courses, it not only (understandably) increases their scores in science, but also in reading, math and social studies. It also helps to develop critical thinking as well as basic life skills. Plus, being that the well-being of the environment has become one of the most prominent issues of the 21st Century, research has also revealed that environmental education plays a vital role in preparing many young people for their future career paths; many of which will deal directly with the environment whether it’s being a biologist or zoo keeper, a meteorologist or environmental consultant or the dozens upon dozens of jobs in between.

It’s better for their holistic health. With all of the information that has been coming out lately about the state of obesity within this country, especially as it relates to childhood obesity (roughly 16-33 percent of today’s youth are considered obese), this should be enough reason to want to mandate environmental education for children. By appreciating the outdoors (via studying about it and learning in it), children are able to take in fresh air, get Vitamin D from the sun, exercise, and that’s not all. Studies also support that increased outdoor time also is beneficial to their cognitive functioning and emotional well-being. Plus, it increases their own levels of self-discipline. All of which are foundational for a being a healthy and responsible adult.