I’ve spent my entire career working in social and racial justice – from legal advocacy to education reform. It’s a passion that runs deep in my soul. I currently work at an organization that has 240+ Pre-K to 12th grade public charter schools in 50 communities across the country. The vast majority of our 100K students are low income and Black and/or Latinx. I am so thankful that I get to work alongside incredible educators and leaders for racial justice who have deep expertise in anti-racism combined with an educator’s lens.
When the news of George Floyd’s murder hit and our nation erupted, my heart shattered yet again. I realized that my privilege and discomfort limit the types of conversations I have with my children and with extended my family about race. But, I know this is where change needs to start. There are SO many resources being shared which is awesome… and also overwhelming. I have a solid understanding of systemic racism from an academic perspective… and I have a lot of children’s books about diversity and equity (here’s a list if you’re looking to add to your library) — but what I wanted was simple strategies/guidelines for facilitating conversations and lesson plans geared towards young children (mine are age 8, 5, and 3) to educate them and raise them as anti-racists.
I looked online, reached out to a moms group within my organization, reviewed resources for parents recommended by our Chief Equity Officer… and here are the top 5 resources that I’d recommend for parents of young (PreK / Elementary) children:
- Raising Race Conscious Children: They offer a 1.5 hour workshop which I’ll be attending on June 18th. A colleague attended and recommended it. They offer an option to register as a group of up to 6 and your group will be together during small group discussion times which is a great way to learn together and continue the learning after the workshop. I also love this list of 100 Race Conscious Things You Can Say to Advance Racial Justice — sometimes I just need a sample script to express what’s in my heart and this is a great starter list.
- Parent Toolkit: How to Talk to Kids about Race and Racism: I love this simple list of actions you can take. The first is “Actually talk about it.” Which seems obvious… But how many of us avoid talking about race with our kids because we don’t want to say the wrong thing, or we don’t know the answer to their questions? How can we create open dialogue and position ourselves as curious learners alongside our kids?
- Aha Parenting: Talking with Children about Racism, Police Brutality, and Protests: This is a helpful guide that gives specific suggestions by age group. For example, for ages 6-9, it suggests, “With all ages, start by asking your child what he’s heard. Listen to his answers before jumping in to explain. Repeat to be sure you’ve understood. It’s okay to say you don’t know in answer to a question — you can tell your child you need to research that question and you will let them know what you find out.”
- USA Today: George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Ahmaud Arbery. What do we tell our children?: This article talks about how to talk about the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery specifically. “Silence will not protect you or them,” said Beverly Daniel Tatum, a psychologist and author of “Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race.” “Avoiding the topic is not a solution.” She also shared, “Regardless of the age of the child, it is important to balance acknowledging the reality of racism, or unfairness, with messages about the possibility of change, and the community of allies who are working together to make things better.”
- Teaching Tolerance – Lessons: This is the JACKPOT of actual lessons/activities for teaching about a wide range of social justice issues. The link I shared is currently filtered for Race & Ethnicity for grades K-2. It includes learning objectives, framing so that you can explain the purpose behind the activity to your children, free printable materials to go with the lesson, and guiding questions. Since my kids are young, I want to begin with a lesson on self through Understanding My Family’s History and then will move on to Art and Racial Justice: What’s in a Self Portrait?
Do you have any other resources you’d recommend? Despite working in this field for 15+ years, I know I still have so much to learn and I’m excited about embarking on this journey more deeply with my family.