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How to Teach Preschoolers About Water Conservation

by Shelley Frost

The average family uses 260 gallons of water daily, according to statistics from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The on-demand supply of water that flows from every faucet in the house makes it difficult for a preschooler to understand the need to save water. Teaching your kids water conservation skills can reduce your average water consumption to protect the world's water supply. You also benefit in the short-term by seeing a decrease in your water bill.

Conserve water yourself to model the actions. Talk to your child about the water-saving actions you take. Say, "I always shut off the faucet while I brush my teeth so I don't waste water. I can turn it back on when I'm done brushing to rinse my mouth." Not only does your preschooler see you conserve water, she also hears an explanation of why you do it.

Read kids' books that discuss the water cycle and water conservation. Try "Why Should I Save Water?" by Jen Green, "Water" by Frank Asch, "Splash! Water" by Nuria Jimenez and Empar Jimenez, and "All The Water in the World" by George Ella Lyon and Katherine Tillotson. Discuss the information in the books to help your preschooler understand why she should care about water conservation.

Write a list of all the different ways your family uses water, such as brushing teeth, showering, cooking, drinking, filling pools and watering plants. Brainstorm ways the family can cut back on the water uses. For example, you could install a rain barrel to collect rain for watering plants. You could fill the kiddie pool one time and leave the water in it longer. When you drain the pool, use the water for plants, as long as you didn't treat it with chemicals.

Post reminders around the house to encourage water conservation. Hang a sign in the bathroom that encourages kids to shut off the water while brushing teeth or scrubbing their hands, for example.

Remind your preschool child to save water when is wasteful. Say, "You forgot to turn off the hose. Lots of water is running right out of the hose being wasted right now. Please turn off the water right away."

Praise your child when she conserves water. Verbal recognition of her efforts encourages her to continue those actions. Say, "I like the way you saved that glass of water for later instead of dumping out the water that you didn't drink."

Items you will need
  • Books

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