Family / Parenting / School

Hello, school (part 2)

Yesterday, I doled out some home-spun advice about how you can ease your transition to your child’s first schooling experience. Now, it’s time to crack the books and do some learnin’ ourselves. Behold,

Five Top-Notch Resources to Help Educate Yourself and Your Child’s Teachers

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailYe olde “put the mask on yourself first” drill applies here.  First educate yourself about how to help make your child’s classroom and school a more welcoming, supportive environment for her/his education. Then consider going about the task of educating the folks at your kid’s school, as doors open and opportunities present themselves. Below are resources as simple as a PDF downloadable, single-page book list you can hand the school librarian or a teacher, following a conversation, or a multi-page booklet that a principle or other  ally PTA members might like to read to dig deeper.

And a lil’ reminder, in case all this might feel too too much: working with other parents and school staff to build a welcoming, supportive environment for your kid will of necessity be a positive one not just for other kids with any family or gender diversity (currently at the school and unknown to you, or one day in the future to come there), but all the kids who’ll be your child’s school mates for another twelve years. You’re not being selfish here, you’re doing the social change work we all need.

1. 10 Steps to Bring LGBTQ Family Diversity Conversations to Your School from Our Family Coalition, my regional LGBT family org and the nation’s largest such.  All these steps are really important, few are ultra-simple, but if you were able to pull off any of these things, you’d be making your kid’s school a measurably more welcome place to be.

2. Back to School Tool: Building Family Equality in Every Classroom, from Family Equality Council, our trusty national LGBT family org. This straightforward sheet lists eight things you can do as a parent, from questions to ask school administrators to policies to ask about to resources to community-building.

3. Opening Doors: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Parents and Schools. Another PDF gem from Family Equality Council. This one’s like the advanced version of the single PDF sheet above, to be given with love to the sympathetic teacher or administrator who asks you “How can I learn more how to support your child?” Choice sections include:

    • “Stories Kids Tell Us About What Happens at School”
    • “How Educators Can Best Support Children in LGBT-Headed Families”
    • “Nonjudgmental Ways to Answer Children’s Questions”

4. Groundspark’s groundbreaking documentaries It’s Elementary and That’s a Family: invaluable resources if a teacher or a PTA is open to viewing and discussing them. Each comes with extensive curriculum and discussion guides.

    •  It’s Elementary (for K-12 teachers and youth service providers; first aired in 1999) and It’s STILL Elementary (a follow-up with the teachers and students who were in the first film, documenting the right-wing attacks on It’s Elementary and its creators).  It’s Elementary explores how to talk about gay issues in elementary school, and comes with extensive material discussing who should see the film, why address gay issues with children, curriculum guides, and additional resources. Fantastic material for any PTA-school administration group working on family diversity and inclusion at your school.
    • That’s a Family! (for grades K-8), explores a multitude of family formations, including mixed race, adoptive, single parented, divorced, and lesbian or gay-headed. It also comes with a teaching guide and training curriculum on how to use it with young children. Personal note: our kids ate this up like candy when we watched it at home. No, strike that: they drank it up like a cool canteen of water at the edge of a long desert. Seriously worth simply having in your family’s media library.

5. Human Rights Campaign’s Welcoming Schools: School Bullying Resources, Family Diversity Training and Tools for Educators.  This is the gold standard, the holy grail, the rosetta stone, the dead sea scrolls, you get the idea. HRC’s Welcoming Schools is a phenomenal and wide-ranging curriculum resource for administrators, educators, and parents. When you are ready for more than a one- or even few-sheet PDF download, this is the place to hunker down for a feast.

  • Gender & Children: A Place to Begin provides just one example of this rich, rich material. Note at the bottom of the page the links to lesson plans, the bibliographies, additional resources, and eight different PDF downloads providing lists of picture books, early readers, and chapter books.  Seriously.

Doing more than just surviving the school years, but instead building a school community where all students feel welcome and see their family a part of it, inside and outside the classroom, takes years of deep commitment. So does parenthood. You’re up for it, and you have more allies than you know. Also, you can always start with baby steps. Your kid did. And now look at that confident stride.

 Some of this material appeared in yet more wordy form last year on my own blog.

[PHOTO CREDITS: POLLY PAGENHART]

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  1. Pingback: Hello, school (part 1) | VillageQ

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