I hope that the summer has allowed you many moments to see the world through your children’s eyes–with wonder, exploration, and sometimes awe. Even though we face significant political, international, and environmental challenges as a world community, the lenses through which children view the world need to be preserved and nurtured so that they grow up with hope and agency that they can make things better.
It’s with our children’s hearts in mind that I write to you today. I was stunned and saddened by the events of this past weekend that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia. As an alumnus of the University of Virginia, I feel tied to the region and deeply disturbed by the rally of white supremacy, violence, and hate that was brought onto that idyllic campus, which for me was a place where I learned how to think more critically, sharpened my skills of intellectual inquiry and discourse, and honed my personal values of integrity and inclusion. There was and is no room for the hate that was on display in Charlottesville or in this country. Unlike love, hate is taught, and therefore our most important job today is to teach so that we bring about an end to racism, bigotry, and oppression of all forms.
At Prospect Sierra we will continue to develop our students’ awareness, compassion, and cross-cultural understandings. As you consider whether or not to engage in conversations about these current events, please note the developmental age and temperament of your child. Young children ages kindergarten through 2nd or 3rd grade do not need to be exposed to news that will upset them. It may be difficult, however, to protect them from this news and depending on your child’s temperament, talking with them proactively may be best. If you talk to your children, use age-appropriate language and spend time to let them express their feelings; then assure them that the adults in their lives will keep them safe. Older children, including middle schoolers, should still be monitored for their exposure to news. Give them time to share their emotions and if they’re feeling up to it, talk to them about what they can do to make change. Children feel empowered when they can make a difference in any way, through acts of kindness, activism, or service. I’ve included two resources below to provide you with more tips on how to talk with your children. However you choose to discuss these events, keep in mind that at the end of the day, children need to feel two emotions: safe and hopeful.
If we can do anything at school to support you, please let me know. I look forward to coming back together as a thoughtful, compassionate, and joyful community and for being there for one another through challenges and celebrations.
“Supporting Kids of Color in the Wake of Racialized Violence,” an interview with child psychologist Dr. Allison Briscoe-Smith and educator Dr. Sandra Chapman via EmbraceRace and Medium.