The Cooper School Daily

Talking to Your Children About Intolerance

Dear TCS Families: 

I am thinking about the acts of hatred and bigotry our country has witnessed (again) in the past week. We can be sure our students are thinking about what they have potentially seen and heard. Events such as these are tragic and terrifying, and our little ones may be talking amongst themselves and worried about themselves.

In times like these, our inclusive school community becomes ever more critical. I do feel a sense of comfort that at TCS we actively teach and model civil discourse and eschew violence. Our recess “no weapons” rule, our Peace Wheel method for negotiating conflict, our deep respect for all cultures- all of these seemingly little things hold greater meaning to me in weeks such as these. We endeavor to educate students not only in math and reading, but on how to respect others, how to value diversity, and how to advocate when advocacy is called for. I can think of no higher endeavor.

This can be uncomfortable and challenging work. It is work that is vitally important. At TCS, we know we can do hard things.

If your young child is asking questions, please remember there are lots of reassuring things to say while acknowledging the fear and sadness and uncertainty of life. These events are scary, yes. These events can also shine a light on things we need to acknowledge and discuss with our children, and things we need to expose and acknowledge within ourselves. Elementary aged children just need basic facts and minimal exposure to media coverage. A child will store the event in memory based on the narrative you assign to it, therefore, remember to check in on your own anxiety levels before speaking with your child.  In my own family, we discussed ways we can be “helpers” in these times, including volunteering, advocating, and donating to causes we believe in. There is no right or wrong thing to say-simply be a comforting presence. 

The Cooper School is committed to being a community of belonging and inclusion, and we have established the foundation for this work in our defining documents. We try to address racial issues, as well as issues of social justice and inclusion in general in very intentional ways. I am including some resources TCS has used in the past to help support our conversations about race, intolerance, and diversity. Remember, direct and developmentally appropriate conversations with your child leads to greater racial understanding and helps undermine the power of institutionalized intolerance of all kinds. 


Books for Adults:

White Fragility

So You Want To Talk About Race


Whistling Vivaldi

Books for Children:

Let’s Talk About Race

Something Happened in our Town

The Day You Begin

The Name Jar

The Hate U Give