When speaking with children, we avoid touching upon difficult subjects; we’re afraid that the child won’t be able to understand them, or on the contrary that they will leave them deeply upset. However, we know from experience that such concerns are unjustified. It all depends on the method used to deliver the message to a child and also – on the exact content of this message.
Hunger and malnutrition remain hot topics in Poland and other European Union countries, as well as the United States. According to the alarming estimates of the Polish Humanitarian Action, nearly 160,000 Polish children are left unsupported and undernourished. In Warsaw alone over 23,000 children go hungry. That’s a lot, isn’t it? So on no account should this subject be avoided.
Do you discuss hunger and malnutrition with your child at all? If you’d like to, we offer some suggestions for how you can start. As always, children’s books can be of great help. There aren’t too many books on hunger available in Poland to be honest, however, you can still find a few worthwhile ones. Here are our suggestions.
It’s a great idea for preschool or school-age children to grow a children’s vegetable garden. It’s an excellent example of learning through play. The idea is as old as the world itself – but it is such proven ideas that work best. All that is required is a small plot of land and seeds / seedlings. By growing their own vegetables, children not only learn biology but also about the nutritional value of vegetables and the benefits of a balanced diet. In addition, it’s a good way to handle picky eaters; vegetables you’ve grown yourself taste better, don’t they? Planting might also be a good opportunity to strike up a conversation about food waste. Here is an interesting infographic regarding this topic.
We also have a remix of a well-known hit song for the adults. Make sure you have your sound on for this one!
And while we’re on the subject of children’s vegetable gardens, you can also make fruit paper-cuts with your child. This idea is a bit different from our usual ones and so it should prove interesting not only for pre-schoolers, but older children as well.
You can also use this map to travel around the world and visit the places where well-known fruit and vegetables come from. And while you do this, your child will have the chance to learn geography and some interesting historical facts.
Surely, once you’ve brought up the subject of hunger and malnutrition in conversations with your children, it’s advisable to also consciously set rules that the whole family can follow in future (e.g. so that you won’t buy too much food unless you’re about to throw a party for 100 people; or that you won’t throw out bread but instead dry it and use as bread crumbs or croutons for soups; or that you will buy locally from local producers). Together with your family you can consider getting involved in charity work to support poor families or also lend your support to institutions which undertake large-scale activities of this kind. Here, we refer to our Polish Pajacyk programme as an opportunity for this. You can decide to make monthly payments of any amount really; however, once you’ve done it, encourage the child to participate consciously in the process. This can end up as a beautiful lesson on how to be human, that the child will naturally accept.