Wouldn’t it be nice if raising/educating children was mostly about the straight-forward stuff? Potty training, sleep schedules, even the “3 Rs” are not easy, but they have clear goals. What trips me up most about being a Mom-to-a-toddler (and was true when I taught 3 year olds) is the “hidden curriculum.”
That is the stuff that isn’t written on a lesson plan, but is almost more critical. Helping them learn to engage with peers, interact with adults, stand up and be true to themselves, find and engage in their passions (responsibly).
Moving a step beyond that and you have the skills that you have to lay groundwork for now, but won’t be “finished” well….ever. I’ve talked about teaching respect to a toddler, that is a big one, but there are others that I feel even less prepared for.
Teaching children about race, racism and respect for others is a constant that needs to begin early. It is a myth that children don’t “see” race when they are little. Children begin sorting and classifying their world as babies and show racial preference at a young age. Parents should “step in” and lay groundwork for tolerance at a young age, because children will form their own opinions.
As a white Mom, raising a white son in a neighborhood that is not incredibly diverse, I feel unprepared for this topic. However, there seem to be a lot of resources to guide me. The book “Nurture Shock,” various educator resources on anti-bias classrooms and articles with strategies for raising children who are racially conscious and teaching tolerance. There is even an entire exhibit that looks at the concept of race and what it means culturally and biologically. I’m not “ready” for these lessons yet, but I feel like I have the tools I need.
No, where I really get stuck is on raising a child who is aware of socio-economic differences. Sure, I will get him involved in volunteering (even at 2 he loves “helping”) and learning to take care of others is a key part. However, that just teaches him that he is in a position to help others.
Just like you wouldn’t want to teach a child that “insert name of minority group” needs you to “save” them, you don’t want a child to only think of interacting with others in terms of “helping.” What I want to know is how do I really help him learn that people…are people…no matter what their economic status is.
This is a topic that I haven’t found any helpful guides on and am drawing a blank when thinking on my own. Maybe there are some helpful voices on the internet that can point me in the right direction?