• Meher School Community

While we include Black history in the curriculum all year, our students have loved the opportunity to dive deeper this month, learning about important and inspirational figures and creating displays for the hallways celebrating them. As we encourage parents for COVID safety to depart as soon as they pick up their children and not linger in the hallways, we know many of you may not have been able to appreciate all the beautiful work. Some photos are below.

You may have seen the display of book covers, which is part of the main Black History Highlighted display in the front hallway. These are some of our favorite books for children that honor famous Black people, celebrate Black culture, and discuss the challenges that many Black Americans have faced and continue to face. Books are a great way to start these important conversations with our children. Many of these books are available at the Contra Costa Libraries and can all be purchased online, as well.

I Am Happy and I Am Thankful, two new bilingual children’s books by Room 1 aftercare teacher Karina Jacob, were published last fall. A book she wrote in 2017, I Am Magical, was republished at the same time. All three, she says, are products of her spiritual journey. “I want to experience life in a new way in these times of great change by raising my awareness through my spiritual exploration and practices,” she says. The books are a way to “share this experience with children in a playful and fun way.”

In I Am Thankful (Yo Estoy Agradecido), for example, she encourages children to “find things to be thankful for in life and feel the love and joy expand in one’s heart” – their families and friends, their homes and schools, “the sun, the moon, and the stars.”

Karina’s books are written in English and Spanish, whimsically illustrated by her friend Victoria Bruno. When she reads them to her preschoolers, she reads them in both languages as a way of exposing English-speaking children to Spanish. (She grew up in Asunción, Paraguay.)

Karina’s books are available at online booksellers.

Karina has been a White Pony teacher for 10 years and finds resonance with “the school’s nurturing approach to learning with love and compassion.”

One question commonly asked of children can undermine efforts to help them learn self-regulation and to respect agreed-upon rules. The question is “Why did you do that?” It’s natural for adults to ask that, since the things children do (hit someone for no apparent reason, squish their play-dough into the carpet) seem so mysterious.

The easiest way for us to understand the effects of the “why question” is to try it on out ourselves. When someone asks me why I did something, I can feel accused, especially if they say “Why would you do that?” as if my motivation is beyond understanding. Asked for an answer, my human response is to find ways to justify my behavior. My brain floods with reasons to validate my position.

Asking children to explain why they do things like hurt others, endanger themselves, or destroy property also involves giving them a lot of our energy for the wrong reasons. Getting attention for rule breaking (and explaining the reasons) encourages children to repeat the behavior. In the Nurtured Heart Approach, children are asked to simply reset themselves when a rule is broken. This prevents children from trying to get attention by breaking rules and offering explanations for why they did it.

When we need to understand a situation, a better question than “Why?” is “Can you tell me what happened?” Sometimes children are arguing, and the chance to reconstruct the events helps resolve the conflict. Going over what happened also takes the discussion out of the realm of self-defense and allows the child to share feelings and learn about other choices. (“I thought he was going to take my toy, so I hit him.”) We can ask questions to spur new responses to the same event: “What else could you have done?” “What can you do next time?”