Am I doing my part to raise a generation that cares? The first time I asked myself this, I was standing in front of 18, 5 year olds. 18 children that were in my care for 8 hours. 18 lives that I would impact. It was an amazing and frightening feeling. Amazing because I had the opportunity to raise the future,  yet frightening for the same reason. What if I failed??? Guess what! I failed, but in my failure,  I learned more than I thought possible and so did the little minds watching me. I learned that the future was also raising me.   

It was my first day of teaching solo and I reminded myself of my why. I was in the classroom to share my love of learning and to love and learn from the children I spent the day with. I share this because talking/learning about racism isn't a one day thing. It isn't a reaction to something terrible going on in the world. It shouldn't be something you focus on for a month and then move on. Like everything else it should be a part of everyday life. Not necessarily racism, but the conversations around how each of us is different because racism isn't the only issue. I feel like it's a bigger picture issue that is so much deeper. I feel like it's partly due to ignoring the past and believing we are beyond that.    

My approach as a classroom teacher (and now as a  stay at home mama) is to share how we are all unique and to discuss how we all bring something wonderful to the table, but to also talk about how people weren't/aren't always kind and to discuss how this makes us feel and how we can do better. These conversations are some of my most treasured memories,  because the heart of a little one, is pure and so beautiful. Children are filled with love and acceptance for others. This lens stays intact unless it's smeared with hate and misinformation.   

My job was also to be honest and fair with the knowledge I shared. Tricky to do with little ones (that aren't yours) which is why I can't stress enough that these conversations need to happen at home. Don't skate around the truth, instead find ways to talk about the past,  present and future in a way that meets where your child is.   AND DON'T underestimate your child's heart and ability to absorb information, even your youngest.  Children are as smart as we believe they are.  

Some of the things I did and continue to do with my daughter: On a regular basis, have bookshelves filled with stories that include children from all races, disabilities/abilities, cultures,  genders... Don't bring out "special" books just for Black History Month or...I digress.  Have honest, yet age appropriate conversations. And answer the hard questions. If you don't have the answer, seek it, but don't neglect your child's wonder. Children will teach you more than you can imagine if you let them. Allow them to be curious. Allow them to be fearful of the unknown,  because that's where growth happens. Allow them to make judgements, don't squash their thoughts (in doing so,  you're modeling exactly what you're trying to change) instead talk with your child, grow with them and help them navigate their ideas.   

Above all be the example and do the work, don't leave this job for the classroom teacher. It begins at home.  In my next post, I'll share some of my favorite books to have in the classroom and home.


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