*Content Warning: This post mentions abuse suffered at residential schools.
The recent discovery of the mass graves at the Kamloops Indian Residential School site has spurred us to want to engage in conversation about how we can support truth & reconciliation. To that end, we share some thoughts on how to talk to your children about Residential schools. The below excerpt is from our Grade 4 Wonder of Local Geography unit.
Geography demonstrates the interconnectedness of our world: the people, animals, plants, climate and geographical locality and how each aspect supports and influences the others. It is a time of experiencing the wholeness of life and how we all belong together on the earth. It isn't easy to separate Geography from the history of an area, so it makes sense for us to combine them. Your child will have opportunities to take their developing critical eye and apply it to form opinions and judgements around the historically unfair treatment of Indigenous populations in the province/state where you live. As your child is still young and immersed in the feeling realm, we must bring this history in delicate and age-appropriate ways. Stories with perspectives of Indigenous youth are helpful when wanting to relay more adult facts. It is also necessary to remember that there are many years for your child to learn some of the more difficult and disturbing facts around Residential Schools and Reservation life. From our experience as teachers of elementary school-aged children, when choosing what topics to address about the mistreatment of Indigenous people, it is very impactful for your child to hear that many children were separated from their parents, or had their hair cut, and were forced to stop speaking their language and had cultural traditions stripped away. Depending on your child's age and family history, you can decide when it is the right time to address sexual abuse and violence.
HOW WE HEAL FROM THE PAST
Whether one individual has been hurt by another or an entire culture was hurt by another culture, the process of healing is the same. First, the painful action has to be acknowledged. That means that the person/group that made the mistake must acknowledge or admit that a mistake was made. They must admit that they did something that hurt another. This is the first step. It helps the person who was wronged feel better. After the acknowledgment, there is the truth about the situation, the truth of what the action was that was hurtful, and the truth of how it made the person/group feel. From this point, there can be a heartfelt apology. This can make the person who was wronged feel heard. This is an important step. After the apology, the hurt person must find a place to forgive the other. If we hang on to the hurt for too long, it is not healthy. We need resilience to heal. Do you know what resilience means? It's a quality that helps you bounce back from bad experiences. We all face bad experiences from time to time, and we all need the ability to return to our peaceful and happy place. This takes resilience. With all these parts in place, healing can begin.
Share with your child about the steps that your province is taking in the process of healing from this cultural trauma. Explain what stage the province is at regarding fair treatment now and apologizing for the past decisions. What are the challenges, hopes and dreams for the future of your province?
Nurtured Heart Tip #8
Give Energy to the Things that are Going Right
Do you have more than one child? Do your children have typical sibling arguments? How do you handle it?
Next time you notice a beautiful and peaceful lull between these arguments, be sure to make a point of noticing the absence of conflict. You might simply say," I appreciate that you are not calling your sister names, or bothering her right now."
Give energy and honor to the positive things in your life.
What are some positive things you have noticed your children doing lately?
Nurtured Heart Tip #7
Recognizing Our Own Greatness
What about a little nurturing of our own hearts?
Can you see qualities of greatness in yourself that you can recognize and honour?
Take a moment to name 3 of these amazing qualities, and in what way you express them.
Nurtured Heart Tip #6
Help Your Children to See Their Own Greatness
Often in our busy lives, we pay more attention to the difficult traits that arise in our children because we want to address it and nip it in the bud.
However, when you notice a quality of greatness in your child, don't let the moment pass, be sure to articulate it to them with specific words and explain the context.
In this way they can begin to really feel and see this greatness in themselves, and embody these qualities.
You might comment on their positive attitude in a situation, their responsibility, flexibility, patience etc.
What is something great you noticed about your child recently? How did they respond when you pointed it out to them?
Nurtured Heart Tip #5
Our children long for us to see them and be present for them. How we respond gives our child a feeling for whether we are really present, really listening, or only half there and more caught up in our other thoughts and concerns.
We want to give our children positive feedback, we want them to feel confident, but our generation of parenting has taken "good job" to the next level.
We have used it for everything; we have used it so much that it is on automatic pilot, just coming out of parents' mouths, even if it doesn't really fit the circumstance .
Our children can feel empty words, words that lack true connection. When we choose words that are more accurate for the circumstance, our children can feel more fully acknowledged.
Next time you want to say "good job", take a moment and think about what exactly they are doing, and how your feedback could be more accurate. Maybe a more fitting response would be..."that's very creative", "you are very considerate", "you are very resourceful", "you are very responsible", tenacious, committed, a hard worker...
When was the last time you were authentically validated? How did it make you feel?
Nurtured Heart Tip #4
Surviving the Dark Day of Winter
Yay!! Guess What? We are halfway through the winter!
The dark days of winter can be difficult in many ways, as we long for the brightness of the sun to fill our hearts.
The winter asks us to fill our own hearts with light, and to fill our own homes with light. In the time of our ancestors, this was the day when they would make another large batch of candles to get them through until the return of the light.
Light some candles in your home, and be thankful for the warm home you live in, the warmth of your heart when you see your children learning, growing and thriving, and the warmth you share with your children every day.
Nurtured Heart Tip #3
The Importance of Self-Love
Your child longs for your juicy and focused connection and attention. This secure love and attachment builds their foundation of trust and belonging, and sets them up for healthy relationships throughout their lives.
Homeschooling gives you an amazing opportunity to nurture this connection throughout the day, pacing the time you have together and the time everyone works or plays independently.
Make sure that you honour both ways of being. Everyone needs to enjoy their alone time, and learn healthy ways to self-soothe.
By giving yourself permission to take a break and do something for yourself each day, you can be fully present for your child(ren) when you are giving them connection.
By caring for yourself, you are teaching your child(ren) the importance of self-love.
What do you do to re-charge?
Some of the following was adjusted and reprinted with permission from the Nelson Waldorf School.
At Daily Wonder, learning to read evolves for each child in the same form as it evolved from the beginning of humanity: spoken language developed first, then people drew pictures to communicate their ideas, followed by symbols such as hieroglyphics and finally the abstract letters of our modern alphabets. Once there was a written language, people learned to read. This unfolding inspires the sequence of the literacy program laid out in Daily Wonder curriculum. For Daily Wonder, the central theme for all lessons, in every subject, is the human story. We use storytelling to shape and deliver the living pictures behind every lesson, including the literacy program.
In the Early Years, from birth to age seven, the focus is on the spoken word. When children are young, the emphasis is on spoken verses and stories: nature stories, folktales and fairy tales. Parents and teachers are ‘storytellers’ and are careful not to ‘dumb down’ or simplify the language of fairy tales. Parents and teachers are encouraged to be careful to use clear speech and enunciate well, as this immersion in literature is the basis of literacy. This immersion in the spoken word also supports children later when learning to write and spell.
Repetition supports retention. When the same sequence and stories are repeated daily for weeks, children learn these stories, songs and verses ‘by heart.’ Current brain research confirms that repetition aids a child’s brain development. The connections of billions of neural pathways in the brain are strengthened through repeated experiences.
Writing Begins Holistically. In Year 1 of the Daily Wonder curriculum, the alphabet is introduced in an imaginative, pictorial way. Each letter of the alphabet is presented as a picture representing an element from a story the children are told. For example, they might hear the story of a knight on a quest who had to cross mountains and a valley. The children will then draw a picture with the letter “M” forming the Mountains on either side of the “V” for Valley.
In this way, the child develops a living relationship with each letter rather than going straight to the abstraction of the alphabet letters themselves. These ‘pictures’ can be described as the bridge between the pictorial thinking of the child and the abstract thinking of the adult.
After learning all the letters, children experience copying mom or dad’s writing into their portfolio. The portfolio is an artistically created record of the learning that children using Daily Wonder curriculum create themselves. These first written sentences and stories come from the children’s own experience, and the children’s first practice of ‘reading’ is the reading of their own text.
Reading begins with decoding. It is important to know that reading requires decoding skills that develop in children at varying ages. At Daily Wonder we understand that learning to read will unfold naturally in its own time for the vast majority of children when given the proper support.
Just as a normal, healthy child will learn to walk without our teaching them, and just as a child miraculously learns to speak their native language by the age of three without lessons, worksheets or a dictionary, so will a child naturally learn to read when they have a positive relationship with the spoken and written word and have been provided with the necessary tools and skills.
At Daily Wonder we follow the well-researched three-year Literacy program set out by Janet Langley and Jennifer Militzer-Kopperl in their book “The Roadmap to Literacy.” Over the three years of the program (Years 1 through 3), Daily Wonder supports parents to bring the six layers of literacy to their children (phonemic awareness, phonics instruction, vocabulary, fluency, comprehension, writing).
Once the child receives the alphabet letters and sounds pictorially and through verse and song, they begin to learn approximately 33 phonics rules over the three years. The rules support understanding and skill-building for future spelling and reading. Vocabulary, fluency, comprehension and writing are regular parts of the daily lesson plans and expand over time.
Classic books expand vocabulary. At Daily Wonder, we encourage parents to provide their child(ren) with age-appropriate, well-written literature to expand their vocabulary and keep their love for reading alive. We also love a good graphic novel for those who need shorter reading stints to maintain their enthusiasm for reading. Practice is key, and preference is personal.
There can be negative impacts of pushing reading too early. Research has shown the negative impacts of pushing academics, such as reading, at too early an age. Forcing children to read too early often hurts their self-confidence and general passion for books. This research indicates that kindergarten and preschool-aged children should focus on age-appropriate activities such as playing, exploring and socializing. Finland is an excellent example of this, given that its schools lead the world in education standards. Finnish children generally don’t start kindergarten until age 6. And kindergarten is focused mainly on play and socialization; there is no reading or writing. Additionally, their school days are not more than 4 hours long.
Daily Wonder’s teachers are saying that children who read when they are ready can maintain a passion for stories and a love of reading further into their older years. In our experience, when reading is not rushed before writing, students are typically reading at or above standardized government levels and with improved comprehension.
I think we can all agree that we want our kids to love reading and have the ability to express their heart's desires and gifts in writing and speaking.
Nurtured Heart Tip #2
Having an Extra Bad Day!?!
Next time you feel flustered about something your child is doing (or not doing), recognize that giving energy to what is not working is really not the best route.
Take a deep breath, and if you need to walk away for a moment to get grounded, go ahead and do so.
When you return to the scene, find something positive that your child is doing that can be highlighted. Sometimes the scene is so negatively charged, that the best positive thing you can find is actually something like, "I see that you're not throwing your toys against the wall. This shows that you are getting better at managing your emotions."
When you are able to give authentic, positive feedback, it really does help your child to feel positive about themselves, and it guides them towards self-regulation.
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The Wonder Squad