Help Answering Your Kid’s Tough Questions

Every parent has dealt with tough questions from their child. And they often pop up unexpectedly—when you’re tucking them into bed or when that little voice pipes up from the back seat. National Public Radio (NPR) has partnered with Sesame Workshop’s child development experts to create a podcast called Parenting: Difficult Conversationsto help you answer those tough questions.

The podcast has three episodes so far:

The podcasts bring all the care and child appropriateness you expect from the folks who have been behind 50 years of Sesame Street. NPR has distilled some of what they’ve learned so far from the podcast to create five tips to help you handle whatever question pops out of your child when you least expect it.

  1. When you get a tough question, listen for what the child is really
  2. Give them facts, but at a pace they can manage.
  3. “That’s a good question. Let’s find out more together.”
  4. Reassure them that they are safe and loved.
  5. Take care of yourself, and don’t be afraid to share your emotions.

The NPR articledigs into each of these five tips with more information to help you answer your child’s tough questions.

3 Mistakes to Avoid When Talking with Your Tween

Middle school is a challenging time for kids, and talking with your tween about what’s going on in their life is especially challenging for parents. Dr. Atilla Ceranoglu, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School, explains the challenge with pets. Infants and toddlers are puppies—you can cuddle and hug them endlessly. But teenagers are like cats—they avoid you most of the time and only occasionally seek out your attention, but when you try to touch them, they run away.

Great Schools details the top three mistakes parents make when they try to talk to their middle schooler.

  1. Waiting for a Crisis:When there’s a crisis, tensions are high and your teen is less likely to open up to you. Instead, talk early and often before there’s a crisis so you have built some trust and rapport into your relationship already when a problem arises.
  2. Taking Too Direct an Approach:Even adults are not likely to respond well to “Let’s sit down and talk.” Spend time with your child doing something they enjoy and use that opportunity to let conversations happen in a more relaxed atmosphere.
  3. Letting the Opportunity Pass:While tweens and teens tend to push their parents away, that doesn’t mean they don’t want you involved in their life. Be ready to drop what you are doing when they want to talk—giving your child genuine interest when they want it helps build a relationship that will allow them to approach you when the conversations are tough.

Avoiding these mistakes won’t eliminate the grunts, “fines,” and “nothings” that your middle schooler responds to questions with, but they will help you build the foundation for the occasional meaningful conversation throughout their teen years.

Help Your Child Spring Ahead

Illinois PTA has often highlighted the resourcesand researchdone by Learning Heroes. As the annual state assessment, now known as the Illinois Assessment of Readiness (IAR), approaches, Learning Heroes has released a new resource for families called Spring Ahead.

Spring Ahead provides tools and information to help families support their child as they get ready for the annual state assessment. Among the resources are:

There is also a send-home PDF flyer in both English and Spanishthat summarizes the Spring Ahead information and directs families to the Learning Heroes website. Help your child Spring Aheadby visiting the site today.

Creating a Social Justice Reading Group for Children and Their Families

Seeing an increase in intolerance shortly after the 2016 election, National Education Policy Center(NEPC) director Kevin Welner and associate director Michelle Renée Valladares were discussing how to address the issue with their young children. They decided to collaborate other parents and their children to create an intergenerational social justice reading group. The aim was to provide a learning experience to counterbalance the negative political comments about people of color, immigrants, and other historically disenfranchised groups.

They decided to share their experience running the reading group with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance project. Through this collaboration came a new Reading for Social Justice guide.

The guide provides everything a group of parents or teachers need to set up a social justice reading group for families, covering:

  • Things to think about before starting your reading group
  • How to organize your reading group
  • How to set content and literacy goals for your group
  • How to select what books to read
  • How to run your reading group meetings

The guide shares the experiences of three reading groups from Colorado, Texas, and South Carolina. There is a recommended book list and places to find other similar lists. The appendices provide information for teachers on laying the groundwork for a reading group, a planning workbook, and a sample teaching strategy.

There are benefits in creating a reading group for both adults and children for everyone involved, including improvements in school climate, in family and community engagement, and in reading and language skills. Other benefits are:

  • Reading groups support children in processing current events and hard truths about the world around them.
  • Reading groups help children situate present events within a larger historical context of social injustice.
  • Reading groups facilitate social emotional learning.
  • Reading groups develop critical thinking and literacy skills.
  • Reading groups build family and community engagement.
  • Family engagement bolsters students’ academic performance.

Check out Teaching Tolerance’s Reading for Social Justice guide and start planning for your reading group.