African-American youth comprise the largest numbers in youth-related stop-and-frisks, arrests, suspension from public schools and victims of gun violence. Since the future of African-Americans depends on today’s youth, it led me to create the phrase “The transformation of a Nation begins in the homes of its people.” Today – Black History Month 2014 – acknowledging the plight of our youth and looking at our daily practices, will you choose a way to make a difference for future generations and share it with PN? While we pay tribute to Black contributors annually, can each of us search, find and share actions that parents can implement in their homes, on their blocks and communities. The goal is to transform our homes and communities (one block at a time) into places where youth are appreciated for their unique gifts and contribution to the group and provided opportunities to resurrect the highest-held African, Afro-American, Hispanic, Native American value – the interpersonal relationship between mankind – replacing the European, Euro-American highest-held value which lies in the Object or in the acquisition of the Object (Edwin J. Nichols, Ph.D.).
We owe it to our ancestors and to future generations. You can make a difference. Start by observing and truthfully acknowledging your feelings toward youngsters – yours and others; find a way that you can contribute to a young person and share the results with PN so it can be shared with the community. If you experience frequent upsets, yelling and anger, it suggests the need for some emotional clearing which simply requires a safe, supportive space to communicate.
Beginning the campaign to transform the nation, we ask readers to share practices at home or in the classroom that are useful to the growth of all intelligences, including English and math, while not excluding the others. We’ll also solicit and share information on developmental tasks leading up to and including adolescence.
Ages 5 -8 – The Time to develop a sense of accomplishment and competence
Leaving the preschool stage, these youngsters are to grow in the ability to think and plan ahead more than one step at a time, to separate from home and family, to separate from home and family to accept other adults as authority figures and to relate to a wider group of people as they enter the world of school. Erikson labels the crisis at this stage as Industry vs. Inferiority. Positive resolution results in a sense of duty, accomplishment and competence while negative resolution results in a sense of inadequacy, poor working habits, tendency to avoid competitive situations.
A major adjustment for this age group is attending school and the changes that it requires. Your child’s sense of accomplishment and competence will, for the most part, be gained from his/her participation in school. That’s why parents must be involved in their child’s education. You cannot turn your child over to a bureaucracy and leave them. While teachers hold various degrees in subject matter, you must verify that their classroom practices protect and enhance your child’s sense of self-worth. You must also provide your child with family and community activities so that s/he can have opportunities to excel.
These youngsters are so curious and so eager to do what adults do that you can include them in practically any activity. Praise them often. Tell them exactly what you liked about what they did, rather than merely saying “you’re a good boy or girl”.
Helping your child win at school requires structure at home. Regular times for homework, meals and bed need to be established. Get to know your child’s teachers. Open the lines of communication because what’s happening at home and school impacts on this child. Remember, starting school is a major event, placing your child in an extremely structured environment.
School can also cause emotional upsets for the child. You may notice some changes in the attitude of your six-year-old, stubbornness, wanting to have own way, maybe even tantrums. Parents really need to find and participate in parent support groups. So many practices surrounding discipline creates angry and hostile children. We need to change that so that when the turbulence of adolescence comes, it can be a lot less volatile. Actually, we can literally save lives.
Parents, guardians of children this age are invited to share experiences with PN at firstname.lastname@example.org.