Incidents of violence over the last several days have prompted many to reflect on our present culture and wonder about the sources of anger we see reflected in these horrific episodes. As an educator, I am flummoxed and confused that such acts occur in civil society. At times, it makes me -- and perhaps you -- feel powerless.
It is in these very moments that we must remind ourselves and our children of the importance of tolerance and civil discourse. While we can’t solve all the world’s evils, we in the James River community are creating the next generation of leaders. Leaders who will embrace the challenges of the times equipped with knowledge, compassion, and determination to make a more civil, just, and equitable society. We proudly and intentionally practice civil discourse in our school, knowing its power to open minds and make connections. Practicing tolerance and civil discourse requires both speaking and listening, the latter too often ignored in the world at large.
We serve a broad range of children here at James River. This makes giving guidance tricky, as some of our students are too young to be fully aware of recent events. Others, especially in middle school, are acutely aware and are looking to us -- parents and teachers alike -- to give guidance and provide solace. Some useful resources you might explore include:
- How to Help Kids with Scary and Tragic News? - Screenager Tech Tips Tuesday Blog
- Helping Children Cope With Frightening News - Harold S. Koplewicz, MD, Childmind Institute
- Talking to Children about Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers - National Association of School Psychologists
- Beyond the Golden Rule: A Parent’s Guide to Preventing and Responding to Prejudice - Teaching Tolerance
How to talk about tragedy is very much dependent on your child’s age and awareness. Use your knowledge and parental instinct -- and the resources above -- to navigate those discussions. We will do the same.
We believe that no one is too young or too old to talk about tolerance and civility. Our teachers and students -- in all grades -- have ongoing discussions about these critical ideas. It is one of the many reasons that make JRDS a special, safe place to learn and grow.