I just came from recess where children were laughing, running with friends, inventing games, and simply engaged in a joy-filled moment outside. Their harmonious play stands in contrast to the current dialogue in our country and the level of tension that exists as groups struggle to define the direction for our country. The news – and its many implications – comes through our doors each day, as children tell stories of participating in protests, have the opportunity to witness first-hand the peaceful transfer of presidential power, or ask questions about the experience of immigrants. Children are absorbing the many stories that are in the media, and they are forming ideas based on the pieces they hear and see.
DCD’s mission calls on us to inspire students to become caring, ethical members of the larger world by emphasizing thoughtful citizenship and respect for self and others. Just this morning two faculty members shared their own personal experiences as citizens, and the power they felt when they made their voices heard for the values and issues that are important to them. I ended the assembly by talking about the third grade’s TEAM motto, “Together Everyone Achieves More,” and let students know how valued each and every one of them is here at DCD. It is an empowering message for children to learn that they can make their voices heard, since that is one of the incredible gifts of living in a democracy like the U.S.
It can be perplexing to navigate complex political topics with young children, and our usual rules of thumb serve us well. If your child raises a question, ask lots of questions to understand what is on their mind and what ideas they have already formed. Offer reassurance when you are able to provide it. You may not feel you are able to provide all the answers, but simply engaging with your children on the topics that interest them will help them learn about the power of citizenship.
On Friday afternoon, our faculty and staff were treated to a wonderful afternoon of community during a special lunch celebration hosted by the Parent Association. Families gathered on Saturday to play Bingo together and enjoy an evening of fellowship. I’m so grateful for moments like these – and many others – that demonstrate to children and adults that communities can come together across many types of differences to forge strong and enduring relationships. The world needs models like the one that has been built at DCD over the past 114 years.
We will continue to explore ways to reinforce our messages of community, tolerance, and engagement in the world around us, and welcome your thoughts and input throughout.
P.S. As a New Englander, one way I’m gaining perspective and understanding an experience different than my own is through reading Hillbilly Elegy
. It is a memoir told by J.D. Vance about the challenges and gifts of his “hillbilly” (a term of pride for him) upbringing. The book provides a thought-provoking window into the mindset of many people in the rust belt, and sheds light on the deep political divisions in our country. It is also inspiring to read as a parent, since it shows how much love, wisdom and strength can emerge from an imperfect childhood.