There are often so many nerves wrapped up in the first week of school. Prepping your child for going back is one of the best ways to keep off those back-to-school jitters.

While there are a lot of experts that can help give you advice on how to get them on a schedule, lunches to pack and more, I want to encourage you to go over how to recycle at school briefly before they go back. Helping them be confident in how to recycle and gain self-efficacy in their ability to improve the world are things that can help them the first week back and beyond.

If your child is attending school in person, there are more than 30 schools in Whitfield County that are recycling paper and participating in a school recycling contest hosted by Target Recycling at School, a program of the Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority. When you drive through the parking lot, look for sky-blue-colored cans outside of the school where you can drop off paper recycling for your kid or have them look inside the school for containers by asking schoolteachers and administration. Each school is in control of how recyclables are collected in the school so the recycling bins may look different from school to school or even classroom to classroom.

Children can often pick up new habits quickly and are usually empathetic to people and animals around them. This makes them great recyclers! As long as they know how recycling paper can help us cut down fewer trees and keep more homes and resources available for animals or how recycling aluminum helps us cut down on mining in the rainforests, they can connect their habit to the bigger picture. Teaching recycling is a great way to help them understand how little actions by a large group of people can make a big difference in the world around us. Sign up for the school email to get the monthly recycling totals for your school.

With Whitfield County Schools having students return on Friday and Dalton Public Schools returning next week, now is the best time to begin prepping your kids to be on the lookout for recycling containers and remind them that it is OK to ask questions. They may need to ask where the recycling bin or can is and what the teacher collects.

Especially passionate students may be interested in joining the recycling or eco club at their school or even starting one! Knowing what the recycling symbol, the triangle with three arrows, looks like, and knowing what paper products should be recycled are the two most important things to know that they can learn even before school starts.

Use one of our free Recycling Ben worksheets online at www.dwswa.org/mascot-recycling-ben to learn about recycling through matching games, a word search or a coloring sheet. Get hands on with your learning by doing a scavenger hunt around the house. Have them quickly search for five things made out of paper they can recycle in five minutes or less.

Children struggle the most with remembering that paperboard tubes, like toilet paper rolls, and paperboard boxes, cereal boxes, can be recycled in the paper bin. If they are older, you can go over how waxy or laminated paper doesn’t go in the recycling bin so they can be extra prepared. It helps to practice at home first so they can feel confident about recycling in front of their peers.

The routine of recycling and helping the planet, along with everything that lives on it, can greatly increase the confidence of any child. The simple gesture of putting waste in the right place can give them bits of joy and the warm feeling of doing the right thing throughout their day. Help prepare them this week so they can lead their school this whole year!

Amy Hartline is the recycling and education program coordinator for the Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority. Have a recycling question? Contact her at (706) 278-5001 or ahartline@dwswa.org.

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