International poverty is a hard topic for anyone to grasp. It’s complex, can feel far away, and often includes difficult stories and images. But that doesn’t mean we should avoid bringing kids into the conversation. In fact, teaching kids about poverty can instill values that encourage them to help others throughout their lives.
As a children’s ministry leader, you can initiate welcoming, important conversations with the children you serve—guiding them through common questions and explaining how they can help.
Here are a few tips to get you started.
Teach Kids About Poverty: Use Relatable Examples
Your children might have a difficult time understanding poverty. This is especially true when the examples being used aren’t something they’ve ever experienced or are about a child 8,000 miles away.
Try to use relatable when teaching kids about poverty. Doing so can bridge the gap between big concepts of poverty and their own lives.
Here’s an example:
- Have you ever walked outside barefoot when it’s really cold outside? After a few minutes, your feet are so cold that they hurt! So what do you do? Go put shoes and warm socks on! Shoes can help protect your feet from many things, including cold weather.
- Did you know that millions of kids just like you don’t have shoes? And some of them have to walk for hours every day in the cold to find a safe place to sleep at night. All without shoes!
Your children may not know a family in Syria, Kenya, or Ecuador, but they do know what it’s like to have cold feet on occasion! By using stories like this, you can help them understand what children around the world are experiencing. It can teach kids about poverty and inspire them to lend a hand.
Provide Hands-On Activities
When discussing difficult topics like poverty, it can be helpful to provide fun activities to lighten the mood. It can get heavy! And then re-engage them in the discussion.
No matter the age of the children you work with, you can find something to do that they’ll enjoy and will relate to the topic at hand.
See this example:
After teaching your children about families in El Salvador, have them make flutes using straws and paper. Music is a big part of El Salvador’s culture and will help your kids understand and appreciate the country in a fun, creative way.
One of the great things about teaching on various countries experiencing poverty is that it gives you opportunities to teach kids about culture too. And cultural activities provide hands-on, positive ways to find common ground with families around the world.
Find Helpful Visuals to Use When Teaching Kids About Poverty
Visuals can help your kids better grasp the topic and get inspired. Here are some examples of easy visuals you can use in the conversation with children.
- Play a video of a child living in the area you’re talking about to help your kids connect the dots that the kids they’re learning about are real and of a similar age. Be careful to ensure the video you select promotes the dignity of the communities you’re teaching about, as there are options out there that can cause more harm than good!
- Raising funds for a product? Let them hold it, try it on, etc. so that they can be motivated and understand what exactly they’re working toward.
Teaching kids about poverty can be intimidating. But we’ve learned that kids are endlessly compassionate and want to help—and they understand more than we sometimes give them credit for.
Through relatable examples, hands-on activities, and visuals, you can bring them alongside your church’s journey of alleviating poverty and serving the least of these.
You can visit becauseinternational.org/mission-project to receive a free resource kit to accompany your Vacation Bible School, Sunday School, or midweek program.
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