Portrait of a "family"

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by mkchi14, May 18, 2018.

  1. mkchi14

    mkchi14 New Member

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    May 18, 2018

    Hello All - With the vast differences in our societal structures and educational systems, I'm really interested in how children view what a family is. I asked my students recently to draw a family for an art project. It didn't have to be their own, it could be whatever they wanted. And then I asked them to write descriptive words around the picture that they think represents what a "family" is. My question, or just general inquiry, is in your experience, what depictions of "family" have your students expressed to you? Where does this notion of "normal" family come from in the media and how do we as teachers navigate through the differences? No right or wrong answer, obviously, but I am really intrigued by the psychology behind how children/students envision what a family should be.
     
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  3. ChildWhisperer

    ChildWhisperer Devotee

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    May 18, 2018

    I think it depends on the area.
    My hometown is more "affluent" so my students there all had a mom and dad and maybe some siblings. A stereotypical family.
    Where I live and work now, there are a lot of single parents (mostly moms) and the extended family & friends are super involved so everyone calls each other cousin/Aunt/Uncle, even if they're not actually blood related. They have kids younger as well, so there are a lot of great grandparents
     
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  4. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    May 19, 2018

    I agree ChildWhisperer....

    Whether we know it or not, our children's ideas of family depend a lot on what they see and hear. It may not include some of the typical, nuclear families that we experienced or are accustomed to seeing. In fact, that was the topic of one of my grad courses - Diversity and Multicultural families. The diversity was not necessarily limited to same-sexed couples, but rather the diverse population of adults that make up the household.

    It is easy for some children to accept their parents having multiple partners, some who are in and out of their lives. Although confusing and somewhat alarming to us as teachers to have revolving- door dads picking up our children, the kids don't seem to mind it all. In fact, they seem rather desentisized from the entire affair. Children are sadly or in many cases comfortable with the unstable lifestyle that has become their norm rather than the exception.

    I don't worry too much about what is 'normal', more than proper care of the children, and the respect and titles given to the adults. I find somewhat difficult is the lack of importance in proper names that many family members fail to teach their children. I had to decipher "Tee-Tee" means auntie and "Unc" or "Big (insert first name of any male)" may be a favorite uncle or a close friend or significant other to a female relative.

    The kids know who's who. We have to listen and learn without prying or looking judgmental. I know when I had my kids make Mother's Day cards, I made a few "Tee-Tee", and "Dadda Mike" cards.

    Because that's what the children wanted....
     
  5. Been There

    Been There Habitué

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    May 19, 2018

    A few years ago, one of my young students asked me if I knew so-and-so. I acknowledged that I did know the person named and was told matter-of-factly, "She's married to my mom."
     
  6. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    May 19, 2018

    I'm pretty sure I'd get a picture of a mom, dad, and a couple kids. Maybe grandparents too, as a few students have grandparents living with them. But I agree, it's an interesting question.
     
  7. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    May 19, 2018

    It's the same where I work. Many of my kids refer to kids who are their neighbors as "cousins" even though they aren't related. In my school's neighborhood, the "traditional" family structure with one mom, one dad, and children under 18 living in the same house would be outside the norm; the family structures my students live in seem "normal" to them. Therefore, it's not really an issue to navigate at school. I'm sure it would be different in a more affluent area where having a different family structure would be unexpected or something other kids may view as "weird."
     
  8. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    May 19, 2018

    What this also makes me think about is how many children's books have the standard one mom, one dad family. There are stories that do have parents who've died or left, but usually that's the main problem in the story then - coping with those life changes. There aren't a ton of stories about regular kids in stable single parent or gay parent families.
     
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  9. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    May 19, 2018

    We've made a conscious effort to have books in our school that reflect all of our families. It's so important that the students are all able to see their life in the materials we provide for them.

    I'm not sure that family "structure" has anything to do with affluence; I've worked in neighbourhoods that are quite affluent and those that are not, and all have had a wide diversity in families in each.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2018
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  10. Been There

    Been There Habitué

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    I don't recall seeing my life reflected in any of the curriculum materials nor on TV or anywhere else when I was growing up. Did you? It didn't seem to affect any of us one way or another - of course, everything is so screwed up now that it's probably difficult to tell.
     
  11. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    People/kids are always looking for connections to their personal lives as they learn. In fact, making connections is one of the skills we work on when we teach elementary reading skills. We ask: What does this remind you of in your own life? Have you heard of this before? What prior knowledge do you have from your own personal experiences?

    Reading -is- making connections. When we all read, we look for characters and emotions we connect with. Students are taught about text-to-self, text-to-text, and text-to-world connections.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2018
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  12. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    My white, suburban family with two parents, two children, and a stay-at-home mom? Yep...reflected everywhere in school when I was growing up. Just as I was able to see my life in what I saw and read, my students should be able to see their lives reflected in what they see and read.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2018
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  13. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    It may be years before society, authors, and our nation itself decides to truly live up in harmony.
     

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