March 2018 Slice of Life Story Challenge (SOLSC).
All participants are writing about one moment, one part of their day, every day for thirty-one days.
There have been so many tough conversations and strong opinions shared about this topic.
One tough conversation topic is about when should we be talking about these hard issues with young children? When is it appropriate to discuss these things with our youngest learners?
Or is the varied responses to this - when should we be talking about these hard issues with young children? - more indicative of each adult's individual comfort with having these conversations? Do many simply not know how to approach or what to say, and therefore choose to avoid the discussion, deny its need?
If your child goes to school, your child is likely to hear about these hard stories from classmates and other students. Just as in the snippet about the block play above - friends will introduce children to these topics even if families are avoiding the conversation at home, even if families have walled off their child from the news.
Our violent world is the proverbial elephant in the classroom.
What is better, to have them hear a snippet of something real and violent and frightening, and then try to process it entirely on their own, in their own head? Or to dare to speak truth in a developmentally appropriate way?
We make a huge mistake when we avoid these hard conversations with our children.
We don't need to immerse them in the details of violent incidents, but we need children to be assured they are safe and we keep them safe. Certainly, we need to assure them that school is a very safe place. We need to honor their questions and concerns with answers, however incomplete or brief those answers might be. ("You are always safe here, I take care of you.")
Adults should intentionally cultivate opportunities for conversations about imprecise social issues, such as -
- arguments and how to have disagreements,
- how best to treat one another when we disagree,
- how to show frustration and anger in appropriate ways,
- how to join into play,
- how to be a helper,
- who is hurting? are you hurting? how to help someone who is hurting,
- what makes us feel safe? what makes us safer?
- what to do if they are scared,
- how to assert yourself when someone has something you want,
- what is fair?
- what to say or do when someone's doing something you don't like,
- how to listen to other perspectives,
- how to believe one thing strongly even while a classmate believes something else - and know that this is okay,
- how to make amends,
- how to give one another space,
-who to go to and what to do when something bad happens,
and so many more thoughtful, unending, ongoing conversations that normalize the work of living and being together. These respectful conversations will help a child feel less anxious, more able, and more hopeful. Through such conversations, we'll move from a stance of fear into one of courage.
We need to get children thinking about nonviolence. Our world needs this, now.