Tuesday, January 31, 2017

How to make the world better?

This is a Tuesday
Slice of Life.
All participants are writing about one moment, one part of their day. 
A big thank you to Two Writing Teachers for providing this unique opportunity
for teacher-writers to share and reflect.

At closing circle, a three year old calls out,
"Ms. Ingram, President Trump does not like people who wear scarves."

My heart aches. Where has she heard this? Has my student Farid, whose mother wears hijab, heard what she said? Why must this be something a preschooler knows? How would you ever begin to discuss this with preschoolers?

Ugh. These are ugly, ugly times.

Petula Dvorak, in today's Washington Post,  "We have become a nation that detains a 5-year-old with dual citizenship, keeping him from his Iranian-born mother for hours to ensure that he isn't a terrorist threat."

My heart aches.

Senator Kamala Harris at the Women's March in Washington, D.C. just ten days ago entreated us to answer this question about America, about our country -

Who are we?

I refuse to believe this mean-spirited executive order is us. I refuse to approach the world so fearfully. I refuse.

And, I am so lucky to spend my days in the company of young children, who exude hope, love, joy, and kindness.

In the Big Cats, we are hard at work making huge signs about love and kindness. Each child is creating their own sign, cutting out one enormous shape and then adding all sorts of process art layers. This will be the backdrop for our special messages - which we will write over the next several days.


At gathering, we brainstormed messages for our signs. What's important? What do we want our friends to know? How do we make our community better? What is our message of love and kindness? We repeated each message together, aloud - first, in a whisper, then in a shout, and then we clapped each syllable.

"I love you."


"Pick up your toys."

"Build together."

"Make a rainbow."

"Don't get sick."

"Be nice."

"Make a loving card."

"Eat together."

"Go to a sleepover with each other."

"Paint a picture."

"Thank you!"

"Be kind and you need to be good to your friends."

"Make a heart sign."

Perhaps we'll march through the school and share our love and kindness with all...maybe we should march out the door and down the streets...the White House is less than two miles away.

A young child protesting at the White House this past Sunday.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I agree that our students hear and retain information about our world at such a young age. I do believe we need to have these discussions with them, but what is appropriate for their ages? I am an ESL teacher and hear my students worrying all the time. Our students are hopeful, loving, joyful, kind, and are brutally honest. I really enjoyed the activity you did with your preschool students. With Valentine's Day right around the corner, I want to try something like this with my students. Maybe as a door decoration? I want the students to share what they want their friends to know/ How can we make our school/community better? How can we share/spread love and kindness?

    1. They have the sweetest ideas! I love focusing on love, emphasizing how we treat one another, how to be a good friend. It is the best learning for preschoolers!

  3. Sorry - having trouble with the "comment as" button.
    Love conquers all and never fails. We have to keep at it. Yes, the children are excellent reminders. Wow- you ARE close to the White House!

    1. And I was letting off steam about walking there...this project is a happy one for my class.

  4. One of my students sat at her desk before school this morning and cried. When I asked her why she shared her fear that her father will lose his insurance w/ the repeal of the ACA. That's a special kind of cruelty to inflict on a child. We have to rise above the cruelty. Maybe preschoolers will show us how.

    1. These policies have been so unexpectedly and purposefully cruel. Being immersed with preschoolers, I am often able to completely tune out the "real world" and lose myself in their sweetness.

  5. I mentioned this in another post. It is heartbreaking to hear kids bringing up adult topics. But where are they hearing it? My kids were just 2 and not quite 4 when the towers fell. We did not have the tv or radio on when they were up. We did not talk about it around them. A young child shouldn't be burdened with worrying about a parents insurance. Those are adult worries. If you want to teach them about love and kindness that is great -- and what we should always be doing, but please don't frame it as "now that the nice man who was our president is gone and that evil man is president now, we have to somehow prove just how much better we are than he is." We have the power as teachers to create fear or alleviate fear. Would that march around the school be for the kids or for you? 4 year olds should not be activists in training, they should be practicing what a good friend should be. If they get that down, the world will definitely be better for it.

    1. I wonder if activism isn't the heart of a healthy democracy? I believe children should be sharing their voice, learning to speak up. I have no intention of going on a march with them to the White House - that was said with a tinge of irony...these kids are able to get to the heart of what matters in a way that we adults seem to be missing these days.

  6. I love that you are treating the times"outside" by focusing on the important stuff for toddlers "inside", love and kindness. Their pieces will be lovely reminders for actions. Thanks, Maureen. Hard times. . .

    1. Children get to the heart of what matters - and keep me focused on what really matters - getting along with one another, being love.