Parents are children’s first educator’s – here I hope to add some resources, information and ideas for discussing ‘ social ‘ topics with children at each stage of their life. My research focused on the experience of under represented groups in high schools, students of color and members of the LGBTQ community. I have also had significant personal and professional experience with special education in public and private education and will share my experiences in the hope that it will help others.
Regrettably I can not find the source – or even the end of the sentence, ‘Choose your words wisely…’
This is so significant when talking to children about people they recognise as different from themselves – or when they begin realising they may be ‘different’ from others. I have a few suggestions based on research and experience – try them and share your feedback.
#1. Don’t identify other people to your children by describing their differences – especially their race – it introduces them to language that separates us from one another. We were really conscious about not doing this with our own children, it was not until they went to middle school that they picked up langauge that identified others by their race.
#2. Use inclusive langauge, one of may favorites I learned from a friend who was/is a phenomenal parent every time a child points out their own differences, or those of another jump in with ‘everyone’s different.’. Have a list ready to go “some people are tall, some are short, some run fast some can hop and skip and some prefer to …..” adapt for the age of child you are talking to.
#3.Talk to your family, friends, peers, ‘ it takes a village to raise a child’ is so true, surround yourself with people who share your values.
#4, Be prepared – this motto has served me well since I was a very active and diligent Girl Scout in the 1970’s in England( thank you Lady Baden-Powell) -think about how you will talk to your children about important topics ahead of time. Make a list, read, research, talk to parents you respect – don’t be caught off guard and then give an answer you regret.
#5. Examine your own biases and values, admit them, name them and work hard not to pass them on Don’t beat yourself up, we ALL have them,as a Brit I grew up believing all Americans were loud and obnoxious who ate hamburgers and wore cowboy hats. ( Those of you who know me will get the irony of that stament).