Breaking Down the Code

Hey Fam – I hope everyone has had a wonderful beginning to the school year! IT can be a hectic time (for teachers as much as students), but that’s not all we’ve got on our plates these days, especially as we head into a hefty political season. So, it’s time to start breaking down some of the language that comes with election season (and lots of other seasons, too!)

To that end, our Lead Educator Cameron has begun a new series on his YouTube Channel that seeks to do just that, starting with the word “diversity.” Take a look!

Kicking Off Collage @ Odyssey School of Denver!

Happy Friday, Collage Fam! Today marks a very special day for us at Collage… today is the first day of student courses at Odyssey School of Denver! Keep an eye out here for details and more as the first course unfolds!

When Kids are the Target: Tips for Navigating Scary Times

The world can be a scary place; this is something that as adults – and more intensely as parents – we know all too well. Too often, an awful event happens and floods our TV’s, radios, and news feeds with images and words of something terrible that people have done to others. In the past year, it feels as though we have been reminded of this more than usual… between the school shooting in Parkland, school protests and teacher walk-outs across the country, and immigrant children being separated from their parents and held in cages, a lot has happened that hits close to home for parents and families.

Try as we might to keep our children innocent of the dangers of the world, the reality is that our children are seeing and hearing many of the same things as we are, though frequently without the context we have as adults. Giving that context to our children can be nerve-wracking in its own right (which is why we frequently avoid it), but there are some simple tips to remember that can make it easier to talk about it, and take some of the fear out of it for our kids.

1. “YOU ARE SAFE!”: The very first thing to do when something scary happens in the world is to remind our children that they are safe, and that there are lots of people who are only focused on keeping them that way. Just like adults, the first thing kids look for in a crisis is stability – in the form of people, places, or even things. Reassuring children that in the moment they are safe and secure goes a long way to diminishing stress.

2. BE HONEST: After safety, foremost in talking about a scary event is acknowledging that it is real. This might seem counterintuitive, but the fact is that as caregivers and educators, credibility is key, and pretending that a terrible event didn’t happen, even though it’s likely being mentioned all over the place, only damages that credibility. It’s better to be honest, but perhaps limit the details. Which leads us to our next tip…

3. KEEP IT SIMPLE: The key to talking about any difficult topic with kids is to keep the details simple. Kids want honesty, especially when things are scary or they don’t understand them, but at the same time, kids don’t need all the details, and some of course are going to be too much for even the most mature child to understand (and again, uncertainty is often the scariest part). So, keep your explanations brief and pointed. If your kids ask follow-up questions, answer them (remember #2, about being honest), but again, remember to focus on the details that they can handle.

4. CHECK IN FREQUENTLY: Just because an event has ended, or even that media coverage has stopped, does not mean that it’s been forgotten, and this can be especially true for kids (think of the last time your child saw a scary movie… how many days or weeks did it take for them to stop talking about it?) More than that, kids often are anxious about bringing up tough topics, and they may avoid it, even when they desperately want (or need) to talk about it. That said, make sure to gently check in with your kids regularly for a few weeks after a major event, to be sure that there aren’t lingering fears or concerns.

5. PLAN AN ACTION: Ultimately, when it comes to problems (of any size) kids are just like adults – words are great, but actions make them feel best. Actions help us to push back against the things that scare us. The main thing is figuring out the right sort of action; something that feels significant, but of course not triggering. One really great way to get kids involved is a community action – neighborhood projects or discussions are a good low-key way for families to get involved. Volunteering for a local nonprofit that is working on the issue at hand is another great way. Some parents may choose to get involved in protests (our family is all about this), but if that is how your family decides to be active, make sure that the demonstration you’re attending will be friendly and safe for the kids (otherwise, the demonstration can be as triggering as the initial event!)

Navigating scary events will forever be a challenge, and no checklist can ever totally prepare us for when bad things happen, but hopefully this list helps. If you or your family have other suggestions for cutting the stress and fear when big events happen, please share them in the comments below!

Heading Back to School!

The summer is almost over, and so it’s time to head back to school! A lot has happened in the world over the past few months – many events that have worn on our minds as parents, and possibly for our kids, too. That said, the prospect of getting back to the grind for our kids may be – while hopefully exciting – more than a little daunting, too.

Just as we change over the course of the school year, summers add new experiences, new friends, and lots to share and think about for the coming year. This can mean big changes, too, and that can be especially scary for kids nurturing marginalized identities, and that can be further compounded by things we and our kids have heard or experienced over the summer.

That said, there will be a lot coming soon here at Collage, both digitally and on the ground here in our home city of Denver. On the site, expect to see articles coming soon with strategies to discuss recent issues such as the imprisonment of migrant children. Locally, Collage will begin offering social awareness classes at Denver’s Odyssey School, set to start Friday, September 21st, 2018 (with a Parent Q&A the week before, on Friday, September 14th).

Click here for more details!