HOW TO TEACH YOUNG CHILDREN TO BE CRITICAL THINKERS, BE A PART OF RECONCILIATION, AND JUSTICE

If you are a parent, uncle, grandparent, teacher or caregiver you have probably experienced the “WHY” phase with one of your kids! It is one of the most interesting and sometimes difficult times we go through as parents, as we must seek patience and understanding after we respond 10 times to the question “Why is the water wet? “Even with all the frustration (and sometimes hilarious moments) that may come with this “WHY” stage, we know that this is a very important milestone in our children’s development as they are growing in their ability to ask questions and understand the world around themselves and strengthen their critical thinking. I think there are many questions that kids bring to us that sometimes leaves us perplexed and well, if you’re like me, you may want to run in the other direction. One of these questions may be about death, racism, bullying, pregnancy, the universe, God and the list goes on! Today we want to spend some time exploring ways to open and encourage the conversation to think critically, ask questions or answer tough questions our children may have.

This past Monday we celebrated Martin Luther King Jr Day. Schools all around the nations spent time talking about his life, his fight and his amazing story. For our family it became a day to start a new tradition. We took our 2-year-old son to the Northwest African American Museum in Seattle and let me tell you the experience was incredible. Even though he is too little to understand the concept of racism, exposing him to environments where he is seeing new interactions, new faces and diversity is already creating an openness in his heart and mind to be an inclusive little kid! But, after this visit, I started thinking about the fact that this experience may just stay there and then I went down a rabbit hole (which inspired this post) 🙂 I started wondering, “how can I really make an impact in my son’s life in a way that he learns about reconciliation and justice from an early age? Not only during a weekend but throughout his life” I then had one of those moments in which you feel like God is immediately answering your questions and saw an Instagram post from one of my very good friends.

Her name is Kaila Alvarez and she is currently finishing her double master’s in theology, reconciliation and intercultural studies at SPU! (I know, she is amazing). When I saw what she posted I immediately asked her if I could quote her in a blog I was writing, and she kindly said yes! She openly asked the question on her Instagram, “What questions about justice/reconciliation/racism/etc. do you have? Someone then responded, “Best way to teach my young children about this? Here is what she responded:

  1. Teach them about their own history
  2. Instill values of respect, mutuality and love from the BEGINNING
  3. Become allies as a family. Join families who need your help. AKA learn by doing life with those in need because they are THE BEST TEACHERS. And your children learn to advocate by watching YOU ADVOCATE.
  4. Teach your children the importance of just listening. Teach them the value of individual stories, and that in the end we are all connected to one another’s story.

We hope these 4 suggestions help as conversation starters for you and your family to find ways in which you can start sowing seeds of tolerance, respect, love and reconciliation in your kids’ hearts. At City Kids school we will continue to build all these ideas within our curriculum, and reaffirm our commitment to partner with you in embodying the ideas of justice and reconciliation in a concrete way for our kids to learn them.

Photo Credit: USA Today

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