it seems like most of us are struggling to wrap our heads around the results of the presidential election...and i think with the best intentions we included the children in this discussion. i'm not 100% sure they're ready for the gravity of what's going on in the political arena.
i am trying to see through my own thoughts and emotions around this election and identify how we can best serve the children - how can we protect their childhood, protect them from political tensions and fears, while also using current events to extract learning opportunities that are age appropriate?
trying to navigate all of this is literally making me nauseas...my head is spinning and i have no idea how to approach this nor what i need to be for the children right now. today i will be looking to the early childhood education blogosphere for guidance on this.
and when i'm in these situations, i fall back to what i do best - let the children take the lead.
we sat down for circle time and, after singing a very lighthearted good morning song, saying each of their names with a "horray" that they came to school today, i asked if anyone had anything on their mind that they'd like to share about. not a single child talked about the election. as we went around the circle, children shared about their upcoming playdates, injuries they've had recently, their siblings' birthday parties, where they're going to dinner tonight, what they brought to school today. the really, really important things for the kids.
but i still had this nagging "really, really important" thing i wanted to talk about so i just threw it out there: "anyone have any thoughts about the elections?"
since my brain and heart are too raw to go into too much theorizing and interpretation, i'm just going to jot down some quotes from our discussion:
"we were hoping that the girl one was gonna be our president"
"we were watching something on tv this morning and my mom was crying 'cause donald trump is our president"
"i was crying this morning because of that too because i really wanted the girl to be our president because it's mostly good if you were nice before you were a president"
(what did donald trump do that wasn't nice?) "he told people things" (like what?) "i don't know"
"i wanted to have a doll that was purple" :)
"so mom said for the country if they broke the whole world i could fix it up 'cause i'm strong"
"the president of the country, what was here, she is not winning"
"my dad went out to the president while i was sleeping and when i came back they brought me a special sticker"
"my mom said bad people are called bullies" (yes, bullies are people that try to do things to people without asking or try to make choices for others that aren't god for them) "and choose what they do" (that's right)
"when i went to a babysitter, my mom went to a boy's wedding, and if donald trump is president, he'll say you don't get to be married anymore" (that's right, donald trump wants to make choices for others that they don't like)
"we can watch tv and make the president" (we can vote, yes)
"ok, so, i'm gonna build blocks right in front of my house, hard blocks that are stone, and if the president comes and tries to knock them down he will get hurt" (so the short discussion that ensued was to mitigate fear that the president isn't a "bad guy" in the sense that we see in movies - and i differentiated that he'll try to make rules to take things away, like rights, but he's not going to physically go try and steal people's stuff)
"we should be nice to our president" (i agree, we have to teach him how to be nice by being nice) "and today is our chance to be nice"
"i'm not gonna be afraid of donald trump" (crap, this is the immature interpretation i was afraid of! - so i said 'well, his new job is to protect us, so we don't need to be afraid of him')
"so if we want that boy to be nice, donald trump to be nice, we should say, 'don't just be rude to people. you protect our planet!'" (we could write letters to him to tell him what we want, that's right)
"what does donald trump look like" -this little mini convo was interesting
and this is how circle time ended.
what are your thoughts on the children's comments? these are direct quotes taken from the video i took of circle time.
i really think the children are resilient to what is happening politically, and i guess my job is just to preserve childhood in the best way that i can, by doing what i do every day. play. and if they are trying to sort out stuff they're hearing and seeing, it's going to come out in their play.
my conflict lies here - in my adult world, if i'm acting as if everything is okay, trying to see the positive and see the silver lining, i feel i'm also nestling myself in my white privilege, ignoring the experience of the people that will be the most impacted - the poor, the LGBT community, pretty much every racial minority group. being a woman, i fear a country that views women like he does. but being a (mostly) white (pretty much) middle class (mostly) heterosexual american, i am also shielded from the bias and hate that is about to sweep through the country.
and again, i go back to what i do every day. foster love. encourage children to live from their hearts and their own personal and pure sense of right and wrong. to focus on what binds us and unites us rather than what pulls us apart. to value what is important and give them a voice to express their feelings and thoughts and ideas. to be the outspoken leaders of tomorrow. and today.