Teaching Children to Fish: Sustainability Lessons

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Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.
Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

~Chinese Proverb

Malei gets ready for a day outside!

"Poverty is manmade." ~Nelson Mandela

I am a firm believer in the fact that no child should go hungry; it is unnecessary in this great land of plenty. There are some steps we can take to begin to eradicate this evil and it all begins with teaching children how to garden. A child that can garden will never go hungry. In addition, teaching children to garden grows a lifetime of emotional well-being through a sense of food security. This is critical to any child's success.

In addition to the fact that proper nutrition is needed for learning to take place, I am dedicated to fighting childhood obesity and hunger in our communities. Teaching parents how to garden in small spaces can help reduce stress. Gardening also provides many opportunities to help children make educated choices regarding their food and contributions to the improvement of their own communities.

Fighting Against Childhood Obesity

Gardening encourages better eating habits. It is hard to grow a bean from seed to harvest without naturally desiring a taste! First Lady Michelle Obama champions the war on childhood obesity and promotes community gardening on the very lawn of the White House. This is exciting news for teachers because we also see the dangerous effects of obesity on the learning process. Obesity DISCOURAGES learning progress:

The National Institutes of Health-supported study published in
Pediatrics indicates that kids with metabolic syndrome (MetS) had
“significantly lower arithmetic, spelling, attention and mental flexibility and
a trend for lower over all intelligence

There can be no learning without proper nutrition in place to feed the brain the nutrients it needs to work.

By nourishing the brain with healthy food and water, you will
optimize the internal environment, enabling students to truly engage
in the classroom environment and achieve their potential.

~Philippa Norman MD, MPH
Healthy Brain For Life, 2013

Learning is hard work and it takes fuel! Growing a garden can help children maintain healthy weights while preparing their brains for information intake.

Addressing Hunger in Local Communities

As of April 2013, half of the residents of New York City lived at or below poverty level (Rivlin-Nadler). The news is even more grim for residents in large cities across the country. It is simply getting harder to purchase groceries (Badger, 2013). Hunger is a pervasive problem in the world. Understanding basic gardening principles is essential in the fight against hunger. Exposing your children to gardening helps them develop the skills necessary for eating for life, instead of a day.

It may encourage empathy for of those in our communities who face hunger each day. I encourage families to join the many organizations across the country who encourage gardening to fight hunger by including designated rows to give to the hungry. What a phenomenal way to engage the spirit of service in children by teaching them to support the people in their own communities in a tangible manner.

I am committed to this issue and will continue to offer these ideas for teaching others "how to fish" so they can learn how to eat nutriciously for life. It is NEVER to late to learn how to grow healthy food.

Join the conversation on my Facebook page: Education Coffeehouse: Encourage, Engage and Educate

Professor Marsha


Marsha Kay Bass, ABD

"It is easier to raise strong children than repair broken men. ~Frederick Douglass

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