On Monday morning I posted information and tags for our annual gift drive for the Sojourner Center. The way it works is the tags suggest gifts a family might want to purchase for a child or parent. The new gifts are returned unwrapped to the Seed and we deliver them to the center in mid-December. They become part of a “store” where participating families can purchase a gift using credits they’ve earned. For more information about the Sojourner Center, go to this link: https://www.awakeningseedschool.org/2011/12/two-way-gift/
One reason we participate in this program is it gives parents a tangible way to teach their children about social justice. Families will select a tag and the child becomes part of the process, as conversations about social inequality, poverty, safety, service, and generosity are interwoven. Children learn about giving to others who don’t have all the opportunities they have. I love listening to parents talking with their children about which gift they’d like to choose to give.
At this time of year there are other conversations going on at the Seed, equally important to planting seeds of justice. The selected book for our upcoming Celebration of the Winter Solstice is In My Heart by Jo Witek. In our Early 3s class they’ve been reading the book often and exploring their feelings. Their teachers use puppets to role play conflicts and how to resolve them skillfully. They use phrases such as these to give children the language to resolve differences in respectful ways:
- Tell me what happened.
- How did that make you feel?
- Do you want to hear some ideas?
- Let’s take a few deep breaths.
- Let’s sit together or go for a walk.
- I notice you feel sad/frustrated/scared.
- Let’s draw to express how you feel.
- Let’s talk to your friend to see how she/he feels.
In her blog this week, their teacher writes, “In our classroom, feelings matter. We understand that emotional development is a complex task. The children are not alone in this journey. With beautiful books like this one, rest assured we have the tools to help the children overcome any situation.”
As I sat down to write this, I received an email from one of our alumni parents. She gives the Seed credit for her 30-year-old daughter’s academic success (she attended Xavier College Prep and went on to graduate from MIT in 2010), her love of learning, and the success of her professional career. She mentioned that her daughter still recalls having received the “Sandra Day O’Connor Award” as a first grader at the Seed “for the pursuit of equal justice for all.” It’s stories like this that inspire us to keep conversations about feelings alive with three-year-olds. And who knows the impact of choosing a toy truck or doll for a child who might otherwise be empty-handed during this holiday season? It all adds up in our ongoing work of nurturing the seeds of justice.