Friday, May 18, 2018

I am not helpless.

I know I "shouldn't" make a political post, but here it is anyway:


Today we are faced with yet another tragedy in our schools. Families and friends in Santa Fe, Texas are mourning losses and beginning to wade through the grief of being a survivor.

I just read the story moments ago. First, reading for facts and in disbelief that this has happened yet again. Then, reading the first person accounts and personal connections to the school.

And I cried.

I cried because it is truly senseless violence. I cried because my heart hurt for the children and teachers who go to these places intended for creating a passion for learning, eagerness to explore and grow, building community and kinship - but instead have fear that they might not make it through the day.

I cried because I felt helpless.

Then, I cried a bit harder because I realised I am not in a position of helplessness. I, and you, can make a difference. For myself, There are three ways I’m going to face this problem head on and make a positive difference, make my community safer, help our children to grow to be healthy, mindful, and caring adults. (To be honest, I just teared up again.)

Becoming a caring, respectful person doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t happen when you turn 18, magically finished with childhood and now legally “adult.” It happens slowly, over time, starting at birth. Child care providers are the first teachers and their work is so, so important. We’ve all heard that the first three years are prime time for learning. I think what is lost in that is that the focus for learning is social. Its language and problem solving skills. All skills that require lots and lots and lots of playtime with peers and playing with adults who are modeling behavior and social skills. Not reciting from flashcards or being forced to try to read.

You learn to interact with others by interacting with others. So, I will continue to use my child care as a place where children can learn the skills they will need to be successful, healthy adults.

In that same vein, I am a board member to our local family child care association. This is an organization that licensed providers join for professional development. It gives me a unique opportunity to not only positively influence the children I work with directly, but to help train other teachers and hundreds more children than I ever could on my own. I will push for classes that teach how the brain works, how it grows and responds to various stimuli, and how children learn through play.

Additionally, I am actively involved in my town’s SEPAC. A SEPAC is an advisory council to the school committee for families that have children with special needs. With the others in this group, we will be able to give input on protocol during crisis events for children with special needs. We will be able to push for changes at the state level in IEP and 504 Plans so that they  include individualized instructions, practice, and training. We will be able to share information with parents about how to talk to their children if an event occurs. We will be able to help find information and specialized training for teachers, staff, and emergency professionals. We will be able to advocate for programming that includes social and emotional lessons across all levels of development and ability.

Am I still sad?

Yes.

Am I still going to cry about it?

Probably.

But I am not helpless. I am going to make a difference - not repairing what is broken, but by raising children who do not need to be fixed.

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