The blog is back!
Sorry for missing the post last week. I was speaking at a conference we hosted on Thursday in Cork called "Salt: Hard to Shake" which launched new salt research and showed we're still eating way too much salt in our diets. (you can read more about it at Salt: Hard to Shake)
To me, one of the recurring questions during the day seemed to be "What can we do to reduce salt?" and there were lots of valuable suggestions and opinions put forward by those attending, especially during the Q&A session. And as I thought some more about that one, it struck me that there's probably something very easy we can do...
My eldest son is now 5 and at the stage in his life where his reading skills are starting to develop - he gets to bring home a fun-book from school each week and read it with us. It's bright, colourful with big pictures and words in bold for him to read to me, as I read to other words to him. He repeats some of the words I read and I think he's doing very well.
Last week's story was all about words and phrases to do with "Please" and "Thank You" and had two kids food shopping and eating out with their parents/grandparents. Lovely stuff.
"What's on the shopping list? Pizza, sausages and a tin of beans please". "Where do I find the beans? There, past the fruit & vegetables, thank you". "What will we eat? Sausages, beans and chips please!".
As a parent, I know that developing his language skills and vocabulary are key to his future learning and development and are the last thing I want to muck about with.
But come on.
He's 5 and I can see how he's influenced by those around him (his little buddies), his teacher, parents and family, what he hears people say and what he sees on television. I'm no expert on education but I would also guess that what he reads might have an influence on him too.
Why can't the little fun-books distributed to Senior Infants in our schools maybe include some mention where appropriate of a food that doesn't come in a box or a can and contains salt as ingredient? I'm not for a minute suggesting these books should be unrealistic to how children and families live their lives today - I eat frozen pizza too. And sausages.
But if the aim of these books is to develop children's vocabulary and link it with locations and situations they might reasonably recognise and encounter, then why can't we start promoting healthier foods to them that are just as much fun as those that come in a box or a can?
Personally, there's more to food shopping than a frozen pizza and I think we owe it to our children that they learn that too, even when the lesson is English.