When it comes to the subject of important causes, it can be hard to know how to introduce them to your child.
Too serious, and you run the risk of either boring them or terrifying them with the enormity of the subject you’re broaching; too light-hearted and you’re not getting across the nuance of the tricky topics you want to teach your children about.
It can be tough to know what to do, which is why we’ve come up with these helpful ways to help your child understand and engage with important causes — read on to find out more.
Expand your library and read together
If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to helping children understand and engage with important causes and topics, then books are a great resource.
There are lots of books that have been specifically created to explain tricky topics to kids in a way that engages them and is still fun. This could be on any number of important subjects, from sexism and racism to environmental issues, to talking about disabilities and special needs.
We all love the Gruffalo (and Julia Donaldson is a genius when it comes to writing books that kids love), but widening your library to include books that tackle hard-hitting subjects will benefit your child hugely.
For example, books like Lauren Davies’ ‘Little Turtle Turns The Tide’ covers the subject of ocean plastics in a way that educates and inspires children — raising awareness of an important cause, with a message at its heart that we can make a difference.
Likewise, as you’ll be aware, systemic racism and racial oppression have been huge topics in the news recently due to police brutality in the US and the subsequent protests. It can feel difficult to bring up upsetting subjects with smaller kids, but it’s important that they’re aware of what’s going on in the world — and so that we can raise them to be better.
There are some great, inclusive kids books that you can add to your collection and read together that show diversity, teach kids about race and ethnicity, tackle tough topics like racism, and educate them (and us) about allyship.
Reading these books with your children means you can look at these topics together and that you can answer any questions that your child might have.
Introducing tough topics during structured play
Structured play — where you plan out what is going to happen during your child’s playtime by following an activity or idea — is a really good way of getting them to understand and engage with important causes.
You can use toys and activities as a jumping-off point to discuss bigger things — it’s good to treat playtime as a ‘safe space’ when you can have open conversations with your child. During play, kids learn to test out ideas, practice new skills and become more confident without fear of judgment or repercussions, so it’s a natural progression and a great way to introduce tricky subjects.
It can feel weird introducing these organically and steering playtime towards topics that you want to talk about, which is why it’s best to have a planned activity where you have plenty of opportunities to get your child to engage with a subject.
Kids subscription boxes can help give you this direction while still providing open-ended play and creative learning, and you can pick what you want to discuss based on the toys and activities in each box.
There are lots of fantastic kids subscription boxes out there like Sago Mini Box that range from arts-focused to cooking to STEM activities, so you can choose one to suit your child and go from there. For example, you can use travel-themed boxes to discuss topics like the environment and pollution, or focus on a different part of the world to teach your child about diverse culture and history, or broach subjects like racism. Or if your box is centered around an animal theme, you can talk about animal cruelty and wildlife conservation, instigating a conversation about what we can do.
Playtime is a way of building social and emotional skills such as empathy as a child while still having fun, so this is a great time to help your child understand and really engage with important causes.
Put your learning into practice by being proactive
When you and your children can safely get outside, then you can put your previous conversations and learnings into practice.
This is honestly one of the best ways to help your child understand and engage with important causes — by being active.
For example, if you live near the seaside, you could join an organised beach clean or do your own as a family. Of course, there are a few things you need to be aware of if you’re going to be litter-picking with kids, such as making sure they wear protective gloves, are closely supervised, and know what they can and can’t touch.
Beach cleans (or litter picking activities in your local area) are a great way to teach your kids to respect the planet, become more responsible, and educate them about plastic pollution.
Similarly, you could volunteer with a local charity together — whether it’s visiting nursing homes, gardening in your local park, helping out at a zoo, or painting a youth center. There are lots of opportunities to engage with important causes.
Helping your child to understand and engage with important causes may seem difficult while they are young, especially keeping this ‘fun’ to ensure that kids carry on paying attention, take on board your discussions, and don’t forget what you’ve talked about.
The advice above can start you off by teaching them about the world and important issues in a safe and non-scary way without sheltering them too much — helping them to understand and engage with big topics.