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    Day 1: Classroom Communities

    Welcome to Week 4, Day 1 of Room to Grow! Today is all about helping you help children listen, act, and unite to build a better world. Service is an important value for military families, and learning to serve as an upstander in society will leave a positive impact in and out of school. When children see someone being treated unfairly, they can use words and actions that bring people together to solve the issue. When children are on the receiving end of racism, or any unkind comments because of their differences, they can still stand tall because they are confident in their own identity. You’ll learn strategies to share with parents and explore materials they can use to practice.

    Watch Being Upstanders.

    Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rd-Mrtdufn0

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    Day 2: Provider to Parent

    Today is all about helping parents have meaningful discussions with their children about racism. Whether prompted by a news story, a child’s inquisitive nature, or something that’s happened at school, there are multiple ways to continue the conversation. It’s also important for parents to feel confident about approaching this topic as part of everyday dialogue in their home. In doing so, children will be equipped with a deeper level of understanding as they grow in compassion.

    You’ll learn strategies to share with caregivers and explore materials they can use to practice. This may begin as conversation starters around books or food, or more robust conversations about how families of a different race may respond to the police.

    Watch Finding Your First Steps.

    Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drY7SwJi0U4

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    Day 3: Fun with Families

    Today is all about helping parents playfully engage with their children as they learn to stand tall in their identity and what makes them unique. Everyone has special qualities and talents to be proud of. Caregivers can help instill confidence by sharing the wonderful characteristics they see in their children. Children who have experienced racial trauma may struggle with self-esteem, so self-care should be encouraged as a pathway to healing. Dancing, game night, drawing pictures, and other family fun are all ways to take care of ourselves and affirm our strengths. In this bundle, you’ll learn strategies to share with parents and you’ll explore materials they can put into practice. The materials in this bundle will help you remind caregivers that even little moments and everyday routines can make a big impact.

    Watch Self Care with Louie & Elmo and read Raising an Upstander.

    Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3J-QaTcR30

    As children participate in these activities with their families, consider ways to connect them back to the classroom. Here are a few suggestions:

    • Create a Family Bulletin Board where children can post photos or draw pictures of what activities they have done with their families.
    • In a journal, have children draw pictures or write a list of what activities they would like to do.
    • Create an Activities Board where children can place stickers under the activity they did with their families each week.
    • Invite families to participate in classroom conversations or workshops on conflict resolution and raising upstanders.
    • Have children draw a self-portrait and share what they like about themselves.

    Raising an Upstander

    Raising an Upstander

    By Tiffany M. Jewell

    An upstander is someone who uses their voice and their actions to help others. Upstanders make their communities—and the world—better for everyone. Being an upstander means standing side by side with others to build a better world together. For children that have directly experienced racism, being an upstander also means standing tall and proud within ourselves and our own identities (whether that’s our racial or ethnic identities, or in any of the many ways we all have of describing and understanding ourselves).

    Having the inner confidence and strength of an upstander expands into a healthy way of being in the world. It is an anchor that keeps us steady when the world is full of waves. Here are some ways you might help children develop the three types of “upstandership”:

    Help them stand tall in themselves. Affirm children’s identities. Build their confidence and sense of self-worth by pointing out and celebrating their uniqueness… inside and out! Remind them of their special talents, and explain that everyone has their own amazing qualities and everyone deserves to feel proud inside. In addition to telling children “I’m proud of you,” use specific moments to point out that they should be proud of themselves. Remind them that their skin is beautiful, and that they are perfect as they are. Tell them they are “strong in their skin”!

    Help them stick up for others. Let children see you speaking up or taking action when you notice something unfair. Talk about how you feel about it, and model respectful ways of communicating and standing up for others. When children talk about a conflict they witnessed, such as a peer being teased or excluded at school, ask questions: What did they think? What did they say or do (or not say or do), and why? What did others do or not do? What did they do? What might they do if it happens again? Offer language they can use in the future: “I don’t like when you say/do that,” “That’s not true,” “That’s unfair and it’s not okay,” “That’s not how we should treat others,” “I don’t agree,” and so on.

    Help them stand together with others to build a better world. When children notice ways in which our world could use improvement, praise their observations and insight, and talk about ways others may be already working to change things. Remind children that many people care about the same things they do, and that we can work together to make the world a kinder, safer, fairer place for everyone.

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    Day 4: Professional Practice

    Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHu76M8_TTg

    Today is all about helping you find ways to integrate aspects of a family’s identity into a classroom setting. There may be vastly different conversations happening in the homes of your students, but recognizing who they are and where they come from matters, and can help inform the conversations you’re having together. Military families have common core values such as service, honor, and resiliency, but race, ethnicity, and culture all bring in new perspectives. As a provider, what can you learn from children who have experienced racism? What questions have you not yet considered asking? How can you ensure every child feels like they belong? This video can help remind you that even little moments, asking simple questions, and everyday routines can make a big impact.

    Watch Talking About Race:The Preston-Foster Ogletrees.

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    Day 5: Questions and Reflections

    Children come from families, but as providers you have limited knowledge of their background and dynamics. Without knowing each student’s circumstances, it can be challenging to discover what sparks joy and curiosity for them, which is why it is so important to be intentional while engaging with members of their household. Their families are their first teachers and advocates, and working collaboratively with them will help you capitalize on the strengths of their family, neighborhood, and community.

    Please take a moment to reflect on how your responses to some of the questions listed can strengthen the bonds children have with the people in their circle of care!

    1. What ways have you been able to raise upstanders in early childhood spaces?
    2. What tips, tricks, and best practices can you share with others?
    3. What steps will you take to continue learning? What is one tangible goal you can set?
    4. How can you help military families built on the value of service, understand that those same skills can be taught to kids to listen, act, and unite?

    As a Black woman and parent to biracial children, conversations on race began early and occur often. My children frequently comment on the differences between their own varied levels of melanin in their skin and that of my husband and I’s, leading to multiple teachable moments. When they describe their classmates or friends as having “yellow hair” or “skin like mommy”, I take it as an opportunity to listen to what they are exploring and see if I can help expand the conversation.

    It’s not always easy because our children will sometimes ask questions I don’t have the answers to. However, I am committed to continuing the conversation even if the only response I can give them at the moment is “I don’t know.” I want them to know that their curiosity is welcomed, and as they try to make sense of an often confusing world I hope to be a soft place for them to land. I also want to build up their confidence, so they will continue to hold their heads up high as they interact more with more awareness of the challenges of living in a racist society.

    Everywhere around us there are opportunities to learn and grow.

    -Patricia A. Taylor, Anti-Racism Educator


    You’ve finished Week 4!