There comes a time in our lives when we have sort of have an awakening, of sorts. It might be when you’re driving during heavy traffic or even sitting on the couch watching TV. Some call it an epiphany, some call it an eye opener. But however you come upon something, it’s like a whole new chapter is revealed.
In my many years of experience working with children, I’ve come across various personalities and characters. There are kids who are loud and confrontational, to the ones who will sit there quietly and stare at you until one of you blinks – and most of the time it’s you, the adult. But perhaps the most delightful characteristic of children is their ability to absorb everything around them. I call them sponges because they can soak up almost anything that they see and hear.
With all that has been going on in the world, in particular the awakening of injustices, do children really understand what is happening? Depending on the age, they might see it on TV, hear it from their friends, and even see it on social media. And while we can’t protect our children forever, we can only hope to guide them into making the right choices when they’re older and living on their own.
Working at an elementary school has really helped me learn more about myself. Because I work with young children, I have learned to speak slowly and really pay attention to what they’re saying and doing. Education in early childhood can only take you so far, because the personal experiences you receive teaches you so much more.
How do we teach our children to be more accepting of others and of themselves? How can we be more accepting of ourselves and others? Inevitably, the path to teaching kids to be more acceptive starts within ourselves. Yes, it might not always be easy or feasible, but the whole point is to start the conversation with our kids and perhaps, have that same conversation with ourselves.
Allyship – the state or condition of being an ally. You’ve probably been hearing this uncommon word being used more often of late. The awakening of the police injustice, the social injustice, and the climate change all led us to see what has been happening around us. But how do we become an ally? In simple terms – ally is the base word for friendship. Kids have allies their entire childhood. So teach them while they’re still young, that being an ally to someone is the first step to understanding the other side of an opinion.
Words to use for being an ally: friend, kind, like, protect, care.
Educate – give intellectual, moral, and social instruction to someone. The word educate is all-encompassing. When we educate ourselves or others, we are either giving them information that could hurt or help them. When it comes to education in school, our kids are learning as much as they can with what is given them. But we also depend a lot on teachers and administrators to provide the skills necessary to succeed in future careers. Oftentimes however, parents also depend on teachers to teach their kids how to be human beings. I know that sounds odd, but we shouldn’t solely rely on educators to teach our kids about morals and ethics.
Words to use when educating: learn, teach, grow, adjust, expand, patience.
Justice – the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness. Lawfullness. Moral principal. When we think of justice, are we thinking of the opposite of that? Or are we so strung onto the word “justice” that we might forget that the act of justice might directly oppose what we are fighting for? You might hear the word, “social justice warrior” on the internet. That’s actually a derogatory statement as if inferring that those who fight for social justice need be labeled. We want our children to learn the true meaning of justice. It isn’t going onto TikTok and making a meme of the word. It isn’t going on Instagram and hashtagging the word “justice” just to get likes. It is the belief that when we inherently feel something isn’t right we must do something about it. It doesn’t have to be a dangerous act or even a brave one. Just the start of realizing the injustice of something is a good beginning.
Words to use for justice: peace, equal, fair, guidance, morals, lawful.
Climate Change – a change in global or regional climate patterns, largely from increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels. Climate change, or the newest term – climate crisis – is something everyone who lives on this planet should take note of. But far too many people use the term for political gains or arguments. Why are we even arguing about the planet we live on when we are actually living on it? It’s not your neighbor’s problem. It should be everyone’s problem. It’s not just refusing single-use plastic straws. It’s refusing to allow companies to provide us with unnecessary attachments to convenience. The effects of climate change can go on for many years until something even more drastic will happen. That’s why our kids are the best to learn about climate change and help to reverse the detrimental damages. How do we do that? By allowing them to be the change. To be aware of how Earth is being affected. To see how the Earth’s atmoshere is also affecting the planets surrounding it. One of my most favorite website to learn more about our planet is Earth911 (www.earth911.com)
Words to use when talking about climate change: environment, earth, protect, heat, ice, critical, injustice, animals.
Social Justice – the concept of fair and just relations between the individual and society. Examples of social justice are discrimination, ageism, and homophobia. In order to have social justice in our world, we must all work towards understanding and accepting diversity in our communities and country. We all face social injustice at one point in our lives. Whether it’s our gender, our age, our race, or even what clothes we wear. But it doesn’t have to become a fight or turn into hatred. If you look at very young children, you’ll notice that they don’t inheritantly discriminate against someone. That is because most discrimination is taught or learned. If we lived in a just society, then we would most likely all be happier. But human nature prevents us from doing so and that whole debate of whether a behavior is genetic or learned can speak so true in human behavior.
Words to use when talking about social justice: equality, peace, understanding, fair, opportunities.
The real factor in all of this is to start a conversation with our children or even our adult friends and relatives. In order for there to be positive changes, we must allow our children to believe in what is right and just. We must let them see the dangers of exclusivity. And we must show children that we can use fair judgement and integrity when we act upon something.
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