Oregon Parenting Education Collaborative

Español: Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

Pareja con un bebé sentada en el pasto
Fotografía de Omar Lopez publicada en Unsplash

Por Megan McQueen

El Mes de la Herencia Hispana (desde el 15 de septiembre hasta el 15 de octubre) nos brinda a todos la oportunidad de celebrar, aprender y abogar por las personas de origen latino e hispano. Los términos “latino” e “hispano” no son intercambiables. Entable conversaciones con familiares, amigos y compañeros de trabajo, con curiosidad sobre sus experiencias. El abanico de razas, idiomas, comidas y estilos de vida incluidos en esos grupos es enorme. 

Espero con interés que valoricemos las ricas culturas representadas este mes con las siguientes sugerencias:

Aprender sobre personas de origen hispano y latino Comience con el interés de su hijo(a) en destacar a aquellas personas hacia las que pueda mostrar entusiasmo. A su hijo(a) amante del arte quizá le fascine Frida Kahlo y Eduardo Kobra. A su hijo(a) fanático(a) de los deportes tal vez le encante conocer más sobre Evan Longoria (béisbol) y Melissa Ortiz (fútbol). Dolores Huerta sigue teniendo un impacto en los derechos civiles y los derechos de los trabajadores agrícolas. Ellen Ochoa es la primera estadounidense de origen hispano en ir al espacio. Miren juntos películas tales como Coco (PG), Vivo (PG) y En el barrio (PG-13) para valorizar las culturas hispanas. Jueguen al dominó cubano en su próxima noche de juegos.

Aprender juntos español Pasen tiempo juntos aprendiendo a comunicarse con sus parientes y amigos hispanohablantes. El español es el segundo idioma más hablado en los Estados Unidos, que es uno de los países con más hispanohablantes del mundo. Si la herencia de su hijo(a) incluye a personas que hablan español (u otro idioma de familias de origen latino —hay muchos idiomas indígenas que se hablan en México, por ejemplo), aprender el idioma puede ser una oportunidad para infundir orgullo en sí mismo(a). Si la herencia de su hijo(a) incluye a personas que hablan inglés, aprender otro idioma puede generar empatía por sus compañeros multilingües y aumentar la cantidad de personas con las que puede comunicarse.

Apoyar las causas y los negocios propiedad de personas de origen hispano y latino Haga una rápida búsqueda en Internet para buscar negocios locales propiedad de personas de origen hispano y latino. Al elegir dónde comprar tacos para la cena, considere apoyar la taquería propiedad de personas de origen latino para disfrutar de las recetas auténticas, como también para ofrecer respaldo financiero a su comunidad hispana local. Quizá también quiera probar algunas comidas nuevas para usted, como las pupusas salvadoreñas o las arepas venezolanas. Investigue maneras en que puede apoyar a su comunidad local. ¿Tiene tiempo para guiar a los jóvenes? ¿Participan sus hijos en deportes o en organizaciones de exploradores? ¿Cómo puede garantizar que las familias latinas se sientan bienvenidas allí? Diversifique intencionadamente sus grupos sociales —no para dividir a las personas, sino para hacer crecer muy bien su comunidad. 

Hablar sobre raza y racismo Hablar con nuestros hijos sobre las diferencias culturales y raciales puede ayudarlos a convertirse en defensores de sí mismos y de otras personas. Use libros y películas para iniciar conversaciones, como lo sugiere Allison Briscoe-Smith con un ejemplo de Zootopia, y Jeremy Adam Smith proporciona un marco para eso con las lecturas en voz alta. Incluso puede mirar con su familia algunos videoclips de Plaza Sésamo como apoyo para responder las preguntas de su hijo(a) y promover sus creencias contra el racismo.

Asistir a una celebración En el momento de preparar esto, se estaban llevando a cabo algunos festivales presenciales en todo el estado. Esté pendiente del calendario (y los índices de COVID-19) y considere sumarse a las celebraciones. El área de Portland tiene eventos a lo largo de todo el año que su familia puede disfrutar. El Centro Cultural Chehalem de Newberg está planificando exhibiciones y conciertos. La programación en Salem incluye poesía, eventos de arte y mucho más en mediados de septiembre. Busque los eventos planificados de su ciudad o participe en los eventos virtuales.

Libros para lectores jóvenes

Libros para adultos jóvenes

Megan McQueen es una mujer de buen corazón, maestra, capacitadora, asesora y escritora. Basa su trabajo en la educación empática, para lo cual imparte un fuerte sentido de comunidad y habilidades sociales a aquellos con quienes trabaja. Megan prioriza el aprendizaje emocional y las habilidades de resolución de problemas. Cuando no está en el trabajo, lo más probable es que esté jugando con su esposo, sus dos hijos y su cachorro. 

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

Couple with a baby sitting in the grass
Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash

By Megan McQueen

Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 – Oct. 15) gives us all an opportunity to celebrate, learn about, and advocate for Latinx and Hispanic folks. The terms Latinx and Hispanic are not interchangeable. Enter conversations with your family, friends, and co-workers with curiosity about their experiences. The range of races, languages, food, and lifestyles included in these groups is vast. 

I look forward to building my appreciation for the rich cultures represented this month with these suggestions:

Learn about Hispanic and Latinx People Start with your child’s interest in highlighting people they may be enthusiastic about. Your art-loving child may be fascinated with Frida Kahlo and Eduardo Kobra. Your sports fan may love to learn more about Evan Longoria (baseball) and Melissa Ortiz (soccer). Dolores Huerta continues to have an impact on civil rights and farmworkers’ rights. Ellen Ochoa is the first Hispanic American to go to space. Watch movies such as Coco (PG), Vivo (PG), and In the Heights (PG-13) together to build an appreciation of Hispanic cultures. Play Cuban dominoes on your next game night.

Learn Spanish Together Spend time together learning how to communicate with your Spanish-speaking relatives and friends. Spanish is the second most spoken language in the United States and has some of the most Spanish speakers in the world. If your child’s heritage includes Spanish speakers (or another language of Latinx families – there are many indigenous languages spoken in Mexico, for example), learning the language can be an opportunity to instill pride in themselves. If your child’s heritage includes English speakers, learning another language may build empathy for their multi-lingual peers and increase the number of people with which they can communicate.

Support Hispanic and Latinx Owned Businesses and Causes Do a quick internet search to find local Hispanic and Latinx-owned businesses. When choosing where to get tacos for dinner, consider supporting the Latinx-owned taqueria to enjoy authentic recipes as well as offering financial backing to your local Hispanic community. You may also want to try some new-to-you foods like El Salvadorian pupusas or Venezuelan arepas. Research ways you can support your local community. Do you have time to mentor youth? Are your kids involved in sports or scouts? How can you ensure that Latinx families feel welcome there? Intentionally diversify your social groups – not to tokenize people, but to grow your community beautifully. 

Talk about Race and Racism Talking with our children about cultural and racial differences can help them become advocates for themselves and others. Use books and movies to spark conversations, as Allison Briscoe-Smith suggests with an example of Zootopia, and Jeremy Adam Smith provides a framework for with read-alouds. You can even watch some Sesame Street clips with your family to give you support in answering your child’s questions and building their anti-racism beliefs.

Attend a Celebration As of the time of this writing, some in-person festivals are happening around the state. Keep an eye on the calendar (and COVID rates) and consider joining in the celebrations. The Portland area has events throughout the year your family may enjoy. Newburg’s Chehalem Cultural Center is planning exhibitions and concerts. Schedules in Salem include poetry, art events, and more in mid-September. Search your town’s planned events or participate in virtual events.

Books for Young Readers

Young Adult Books

Megan McQueen is a warmhearted teacher, coach, consultant, and writer. She grounds her work in empathetic education, imparting a strong sense of community and social skills to those with which she works. Megan prioritizes emotional learning and problem solving skills. When not at work, she is most likely playing with her husband, two children, and pup. 

Transitioning Back to School

Children standing on a play structure.
Photo by Rajesh Rajput on Unsplash

By Megan McQueen

As an early childhood educator, I supported many families transitioning to school for the first time. Families can help their children shift to school gently with helpful conversations and routines. Even if your child attended school last year, your family’s habits might benefit from a fresh look. Imagine starting most of your days connected and seeing your child excited for school. Simple tweaks to your schedule can help make this a reality. 

Consider some of these ideas when you are ready to begin thinking about heading back to school.

Build excitement: Talk together with your child about the many aspects of school they are anticipating. Some kids look forward to riding the school bus, and others can’t wait to play on the big playground. As you chat about this, share other things they might love about school: painting, new friends, stories, and singing together. Allow space in the conversation for questions and reassure them that many grown-ups at school will help them.

My children enjoyed co-creating a list with pictures of what they would do to get ready in the mornings – eat breakfast, get dressed, brush teeth, etc. They could refer to their list to help them stay on track during a busy morning. Try creating a picture schedule with our own child based on your family routine. Visual schedules like this can help children feel centered and in control of their day.

Transition objects: Many students attending school for the first time benefit from bringing something special from home. I recommend finding a small meaningful item that will not be devastating if it is lost. Some children have family pictures in their backpacks or a small stuffed animal that looks like their pet. Most children leave these in their bags, but the thought of having something special from home close by helps them transition. Kids might visit their backpacks for a quick squeeze hug to boost their confidence. My students and I would often take breaks together during our first school days to send our families love. We would put our hands on our hearts, close our eyes, picture our family, and feel the love. You can do this at home too. Practice together at home and tell your child that you will be sending them love when they are at school. 

Bedtime rituals: We all function better in the mornings with a full night’s sleep. Late summer is an excellent opportunity to create bedtime rituals. Use some of the following ideas to help your child wind down for the evening: an outdoor walk to burn off any extra energy, choose clothes and a snack for tomorrow, a warm bath, a back rub, quiet music, snuggles, and book reading. Choose a couple of these suggestions and try them out for a few weeks to see what will work best with your family and child’s personality: daily routines and rituals calm children (and adults). We know what is coming next and have fewer decisions to make. 

Visit school: Some schools offer a time to visit the classroom and meet the teachers before school begins. As you register your child for school, you can ask if this is an option. If you and your child have things you want the teacher to know, write a letter together. Your child can tell their teacher about the animals they love or ask questions about the school year. Your child can also use this as an opportunity to get out some anxieties that might be helpful for the teacher to know about, such as, “Will you show me where the bathroom is?” “How will I find my Grandma after school?” You may also want to visit the playground before school starts to build excitement and boost familiarity. You can practice the route that you’ll take to school to help ease that transition as well. “Let’s ride our bikes just like we will when school starts! I’ll show you where we’ll park your bike and how we’ll lock it. Then we’ll go play on the playground.” 

Goodbye Ritual: Practice saying goodbye together. Create a loving, connecting ritual to send your child off to school. You can start this when you go to the store or drop your child off at a friend’s house. Saying the same words and a hug or other gentle touch will be a touchstone for your child and may ease the separation. Goodbye rituals can be a sweet memory-making time for you as well. If your child cries or holds on tight when saying goodbye, trust that the teachers have lots of experience handling separation. Stay positive, say a quick goodbye and head out, knowing your child will most likely calm down quickly. Give yourself time and space to notice your feelings. Many parents grieve their child growing older as well as enjoying some freedom in their schedule. Be gentle with yourself as well! 

Simple routines can help your child feel more comfortable with this big transition. By focusing on excitement, you are modeling for your child that school is something to look forward to, and together you can embrace the changes.

Picture Books:

Megan McQueen is a warmhearted teacher, coach, consultant, and writer. She grounds her work in empathetic education, importing a strong sense of community and social skills to those with which she works. Megan prioritizes emotional learning and problem solving skills. When not at work, she is most likely playing with her husband, two children, and pup.

Supporting Families Navigating Poverty

Photo of a person reading a book to a baby.
Photo by Picsea on Unsplash

By Megan McQueen

Throughout my career as an educator, I noticed that all families want the best for their children. I have known many families with long lists of needs while still being abundantly full of love for each other. There are many reasons families find themselves navigating poverty – some have had a health crisis, others are refugees. Systemic racism and societal barriers are additional factors contributing to family wealth. Sometimes we know the family’s circumstances, but not always. As educators, our job is to accept the family and support their journey with compassion. Unfortunately, Covid has become a financial hardship for many families, especially those who face racism in our society.

These suggestions for supporting all families may be helpful as you lead your parenting groups.

Lead with empathy. I have grown to realize that my hard work and luck have created my life. If I had been born to a different family or in another place or other body, my life would look nothing like it does. When I work with families, I want to convey respect and curiosity. Greet families warmly and create a community where classmates can connect. It may help families to hear from other families’ experiences. Laughing together and finding commonalities may help everyone connect over time. 

Offer practical supports. Families that attend your class may benefit from learning about local services. Consider compiling brochures or contact information for food banks, clothing giveaways, state health insurance applications, Head Start classes, local job openings, and more. Share this information with everyone and leave pamphlets on tables for people to take so no one needs to work up the courage to ask for this.

Add resiliency exercises to your classes. Often stress and money worries combine. Help counteract negative impacts of stress by practicing stress reduction techniques together. Brainstorm people your classmates can call upon when they need a break. Family stress levels can have adverse effects on children’s emotional development. Giving adults practical strategies and breaks will build family resiliency. 

Advocate together. If your organization allows, spend a few minutes of your class time on a postcard campaign to lobby local, state, or federal politicians for family rights. Families can benefit from child care availability, family leave, health care, food, and housing support. Focus your discussions on policies that are best for families rather than political debate or division. Taking action may empower people and can support resiliency.

Your parenting classes can be a place of respite and joy when you create an accepting community of learners. What strategies and resources would you share with your fellow parenting educators?

Picture Books:

Megan McQueen is a warmhearted teacher, coach, consultant, and writer. She grounds her work in empathetic education, importing a strong sense of community and social skills to those with which she works. Megan prioritizes emotional learning and problem solving skills. When not at work, she is most likely playing with her husband, two children, and pup. 

Managing Climate Change Anxiety

Ocean waves crashing on rocky shore
Photo by Katie Musial on Unsplash

By Megan McQueen

As a child, I learned that I could be an environmentalist by recycling, picking up litter, and turning off lights when not in use. I still do my part (biking instead of driving when possible, gardening, etc.), and I know that the change needed depends on larger systems. My family takes action, but my children realize that it is not enough. Wildfires and massive hurricanes worry them. I looked to experts to help guide me in managing our fears. Hopefully, their suggestions can support your family as well.

Celebrate the beauty outdoors. My family and I spend lots of time outdoors. It feels good, but I’ve also learned that this helps instill a love for nature in my children. They are more likely to understand the need to protect green spaces because they feel connected to them. We can talk about the interconnectedness of it all, of our responsibility and place in nature. We don’t get out to the coast or the mountains as often as I would like, but spending any time outside can provide these opportunities. “Look at those birds! I haven’t seen them in a long time.” or “The big Oak tree has all its leaves now.” Noticing our environment can help us get outside our heads and positively impact our mental and physical health.

Talk about it. Many people throughout the world are already familiar with changes in their local environment. None of us have escaped news about it, children included. It can feel frightening to bring up a seemingly hopeless subject, but acknowledging our collective anxiety may help. We are providing our children an outlet to share their feelings and release some worry. Provide your family a safe space to connect about big emotions: the joys you share and the despair. By doing this, you can strengthen your family bonds and teach your family that all feelings are okay. It might be helpful to learn more about the science behind climate change. Your children may be learning some of this in school, but you can supplement at home and learn together. 

Acknowledge anxiety and teach coping strategies. If your child’s (or your!) fears start to seem overwhelming, recognize this and help them with their feelings. You won’t be able to “fix the problem.” Use this as an opportunity to model coping strategies. We can say things such as, “This is hard and scary. Let’s take a break. We’ll step outside, put our hands on our hearts, and take some deep breaths together.” You will teach your children how to handle life’s big emotions and build your connection. 

Become a helper. Mr. Rogers reminds us to “look for the helpers” when times are challenging. Research shows that if we become the helpers, our anxiety and feelings of helplessness decrease. Our empowered selves notice differences that we can make, especially collectively. Volunteer together or encourage your child to involve themselves with an environmental action group. Many schools have “green teams” or other environmental clubs. Connecting with others can have a positive impact on our mental health. We also realize that others are working together on climate change. We’re not alone; many people are trying to solve these problems. There is hope when we build resilience. Taking breaks and finding joy in our lives is crucial to sustaining the work. It is easy to become overwhelmed. Watch for signs of fatigue and restore your energy.

Books:

Websites:

Megan McQueen is a warmhearted teacher, coach, consultant, and writer. She grounds her work in empathetic education, importing a strong sense of community and social skills to those with which she works. Megan prioritizes emotional learning and problem solving skills. When not at work, she is most likely playing with her husband, two children, and pup. 

Celebrate Pride Month!

Close up of person's holding rainbow colored candles.
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Please see our earlier post Supporting LGBTQIA+ Families for tips, online resources, and fabulous book lists.

“All young people, regardless of sexual orientation or identity, deserve a safe and supportive environment in which to achieve their full potential.” Harvey Milk

Learning With Your Family: Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Adult with arms around children.
Photo by Gugus Gugus on Unsplash

By Megan McQueen

I spent many hours of my childhood learning about Filipino and Vietnamese cultures. I am white, but I grew up with close Asian friends. Most of these friends were first-generation Americans, so their family’s native cultural ways were still powerful. I learned from their grandparents that lived with them, even though we did not share a language. I picked up stories about their life in their home countries, cooking, and other cultural traditions. Beyond this education, these families personified Asian American history for me. Advocating for preferred vocabulary, interrupting racist insults, and looking at political history from multiple perspectives are essential skills I gained from these experiences. 

My own family will be learning more about Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) cultures this month. And I am motivated to help my family fight the alarming recent rise in racist acts against Asian people in our country.

Let’s use these suggestions to learn together, celebrate diverse AAPI cultures, and build a sense of pride for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. 

Break down stereotypes: There is a wide variety of identities within the term Asian. Take a moment to acknowledge what comes to mind when you think about the word Asian. Then consider other cultural backgrounds included in this group. Think about people who do not fit into the first images that came to mind. I reached out to a local educator Winnie Catbagan who is Filipina and an advocate for racial equity. She shared, “Asians are not a monolith. The cultural beliefs and practices I have growing up as a Filipino are similar AND different to my friend who is Indian and my friend who is Korean.” She often compares different methods of preparation and eating the same food. Winnie also suggests watching these Smithsonian videos about AAPI topics to help break down bias. Examine why the “Model Minority” is a myth and how it is hurtful to AAPI and Black people.

Celebrate Asian Culture: As with other heritage months, this is a great time to explore and celebrate diverse traditions. Learn how to cook your favorite Indian dishes, watch a Japanese movie, read a beautiful Tibetan book, and make a Malaysian kite with your family. Eat out at a local Asian restaurant and research future festivals you can attend in your community or even virtually online. Consider adding Asian and Pacific Islanders to your music playlists and your social media feeds.

Learn about Asian American History: There are important and fascinating untold Asian American stories. Spend some time this month learning together about Grace Lee Boggs, a Chinese-American social activist. Read about Larry Itliong, a Filipino-American labor organizer. There is important and fascinating history to discover – follow your family’s interests at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center

Stop Asian Hate: Your children might be hearing about or noticing racist speech or violence toward AAPI community members (especially, heartbreakingly, the elders). Talk with your child about how to Stop Asian Hate and interrupt white supremacy. If your child is Asian, they may need reassurance about their safety and the safety of your family. Help identify people they can reach out to for help if needed. Books (such as this one and this one) can provide a helpful conversation starter for your family. Role-play situations your child may find themselves in and brainstorm ways that they can react. 

Authentically learning about race can become part of our daily lives when we diversify the people around us. When seeking a team sport for your child or place of worship for your family, consider a racially integrated group. Interacting with people different from ourselves opens us all up to greater understanding and an opportunity to build meaningful friendships and community. 

What suggestions do you have to add to this conversation?

Picture Books:

Middle Grade Books:

Young Adult Books:

Adult Books:

Thanks to Winnie Catbagan for support compiling resources and sharing ideas. All errors or oversights are my own.

Megan McQueen is a warmhearted teacher, coach, consultant, and writer. She grounds her work in empathetic education, importing a strong sense of community and social skills to those with which she works. Megan prioritizes emotional learning and problem solving skills. When not at work, she is most likely playing with her husband, two children, and pup. 

How to Build Relationships with School

Person standing next to white board.
Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash

By Megan McQueen

As an educator and a parent, I see the value from both perspectives in building relationships between families and school. Families know their children best and have valuable insights into their children’s needs. Educators’ experience working with children and families can help build a child’s developmental stages and learning styles. When families and schools communicate well, children benefit academically, emotionally, and in their long-term goals as a learner.

Here are some ideas to support a healthy relationship with your child(ren)’s school:

Recognize your past. Some of us had challenging experiences with school in our childhoods. We may have struggled academically or felt judged by the adults at school. You might benefit from acknowledging those feelings. Free yourself from them if you can or recognize that they do not have to be your child’s experience. Your child’s teachers and school were not the ones that hurt you, so try to assume they have generous intentions. They most likely have your child’s best interests at heart. 

Notice the positive. The relationship between your child and their teacher is an important one. Speak positively about school staff in front of your child. If you have questions or criticism, center yourself, then try to engage your child in problem-solving. You can model this by asking a question (I wonder what your teacher meant by that? Maybe I should ask.) or acknowledging the difference between intention and impact (I didn’t like it when your teacher said this, but I know she meant well.) When you speak with the teacher, it may help to acknowledge their effort and intentions before bringing up concerns. Teachers care deeply about their students and their work. Feedback from you may help them support your child even better. 

If your child is older and sharing complaints with you, help them reframe the situation. Empathize with your child and validate their feelings (“I can see why that feels frustrating.”. Share a story from your high school years with a similar teacher. Connect that with a later experience that you were better prepared for because of this high school situation. If needed, help your child navigate a respectful conversation with the teacher (“Do you want my help talking with your teacher about this or do you want to do it on your own? What do you think it would be helpful to say?”. The goal is to be a team and find solutions that work for everyone. 

Gather information. When my child was young, she told me how her teacher treated another student unfairly. I was shocked. I considered trying to pull my child out of the class. Then, I remembered all the times I have heard exaggerated versions of stories from young children. I decided to talk with the teacher to learn their side of the story. After learning the truth, we had a good laugh. The takeaway: be sure you have accurate information! Also, consider your request or concern from other perspectives. Does it benefit other students as well if you speak up or ask a question? Would there be negative consequences for students? Asking the teachers for their thoughts may help you see the situation in a new way.

Advocate for your child. Because you know your child and their needs better than anyone, you have an essential voice in their education. You can be a cheerleader for your child and encourage school staff. Enter into a conversation with the mindset that you will create a plan that will work for everyone together. It helps to offer solutions and to spend time working on the partnership between home and school. Recently, teacher and parent Reiko Foster, shared an email template she uses when contacting her children’s teachers. 

As an educator, I have learned a tremendous amount from listening to families. I am better because of these conversations. When partnering with my children’s teachers, I appreciate their experience with specific age-groups that has added to my understanding of my children. Advocating for my children has not always been easy, but entering the conversations with a curious heart for a collective solution has helped. 

Megan McQueen is a warmhearted teacher, coach, consultant, and writer. She grounds her work in empathetic education, importing a strong sense of community and social skills to those with which she works. Megan prioritizes emotional learning and problem solving skills. When not at work, she is most likely playing with her husband, two children, and pup. 

Learning with our Children: Women’s History Month

Black and white photo of three young women (a 14-year-old striker, Fola La Follette, and Rose Livingston)
Library of Congress

By Megan McQueen

As a woman and mother to daughters, I feel optimistic about our future. Representation in government positions, media, and other power positions are crucial to showing our children their possibilities. When I remember career options given to my mother and the options my daughters consider, I gratefully acknowledge the continued work that brought us to this moment. As exciting as this progress is, we have not reached equality yet. Learning women’s history will empower all genders to move our society toward a richer one, inviting us to dream about our future.

Here are some ideas for celebrating Women’s History Month throughout March and beyond:

Celebrate the Women in Your Life: Along with learning about the past, we can recognize the contributions women are making today. You may want to help your child brainstorm a list of impactful women and think of ways to celebrate them. Your child can share artwork, write a note, send an email, bake a treat, or visit a meaningful place to honor important women in your family as well as in the community. 

Make a Playlist: Think about the music you listen to in your home and car. Together with your children, make a playlist of music by women. Search “women of (your favorite genre of music)” to find suggestions, or start combining what comes to mind for a made-for-you mix. Look for racial diversity in your playlist for intersectionality. My kids and I enjoyed making a pretty rockin’ playlist

Personify History: Think about your child’s interests and share stories about women who were trailblazers in those fields. Make an inspiration board of women (current and past) with pictures representing their work. Children can learn about who inspired their heroes. Does your child love to have bike adventures? Learn about Annie Londonderry and Kate Courtney. The National Women’s History Museum offers online exhibits, providing opportunities to learn more about specific women or impactful times in women’s history. Ask an older woman in your family’s life about their childhood and young adulthood. Did they have a dress code or limitations on their education or career choices? What have they seen change in their lifetimes? What are her accomplishments?

Feel powerful: Help your children strengthen their body image – this is especially important if your children identify as girls, genderqueer, non-binary, gender fluid, and trans, etc. Encourage fun movement activities that can empower. Play basketball together, take a kickboxing class, join a roller derby team. Keep this focused on fun instead of changing your or your children’s bodies – the goal is to build confidence and comfort in how your body moves. Celebrate all the things your bodies can do!

Question Media Consumption: Much of our media places importance on girls’ and womens’ looks. When you notice this, talk about it with your children. Teach them that every body is a good body. If a girl or woman needs “rescued” by a boy or man in a book, show, or movie, talk about how your family could re-write the story to empower the girls and women. Help your family find media options to help them see a more realistic and hopeful vision for girls. Moana, The Color Purple, and Girls Rising are books and movies to begin your journey.

Picture Books:

Middle Grade Books:

Young Adult Books:

Megan McQueen is a warmhearted teacher, coach, consultant, and writer. She grounds her work in empathetic education, importing a strong sense of community and social skills to those with which she works. Megan prioritizes emotional learning and problem solving skills. When not at work, she is most likely playing with her husband, two children, and pup.

Celebrating Black History Month with Your Family

Black family playing on the beach.
Photo by Larry Crayton on Unsplash

By Megan McQueen

February is a time to celebrate Black history and heritage. Of course, Black history and culture is to be appreciated all times of the year, but we need to take time to specifically acknowledge Black history until we end white-centered perspectives. A shared history provides us with a complete picture of ourselves rather than just learning about a piece of our past. As a parent and educator, I have loved learning alongside the children I’ve worked with and parented. Their excitement is contagious and gives me hope.

Here are some strategies to support you and your child(ren) on your journey to greater understanding: 

Educate Yourself: Much of our formal education leaves out Black history. Inclusive history is fascinating. Use this month to learn something new and continue that curiosity throughout the year! Watch videos, read books, and listen to podcasts. Consider seeking out Black organizations online or locally that you can join to both learn from and expand your circle of friends. Despite the many challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the need to stay connected (despite stay-at-home restrictions) has opened up new opportunities to access resources and participate in community opportunities virtually. 

Celebrate Black Joy: There are terrible stories that we need to learn about to understand our history and how our society is in the place it is. Especially when talking with children about Black history, be sure to share joy, not just trauma. Black history and culture are much more than slavery and the civil rights movement. Read books with Black characters living their lives, learn about Black people with broad impacts, watch TV shows and movies, and be sure that your social media feeds reflect Black joy as well. 

Build Empathy: Sharing Black history is an opportunity for your child to learn more about themselves and others. Teaching Tolerance has many practical suggestions for talking with children about race. Here are some ideas that we can implement: For older children, spark thoughtful conversations by asking questions such as, “What does it feel like to be criticized because of your identity?” “How does privilege shape the lives of individuals and groups?” You may ask your younger kids, “How can I learn more about other people?” or “How am I the same as other people? How am I different from other people?”

Be Anti-Racist Together: With your child(ren), take stock of the books, movies, dolls, books, and social media consumed in your house. How can you diversify your shelves? Talk about why it is important to include multiple perspectives. Simran Noor, an equity strategist, recommends asking older white children, “How do you benefit from white supremacy as a white teenager?” or ”How might your experience be different from your Black peer with the police, for example?” Model and talk through times when you interrupt racism. When my children discussed a racial event at school, we talked at home about how they can interrupt racist comments they might hear. We brainstormed ideas for what they could say such as, “I don’t think that’s funny,” or “That could be hurtful,” and “I’m going to interrupt you right there…” We need to teach our children how to be anti-racist and be open to learning from them. 

Let’s use Black History Month as a time to reflect on our painful history, celebrate the outstanding contributions of Black people, and inspire a more equitable future.

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Middle Grade/Young Adults:

Adults:

Megan McQueen is a warmhearted teacher, coach, consultant, and writer. She grounds her work in empathetic education, importing a strong sense of community and social skills to those with which she works. Megan prioritizes emotional learning and problem solving skills. When not at work, she is most likely playing with her husband, two children, and pup.

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