You still have time to share and teach your little ones about the contributions of African Americans to our American History. The shortest month of the year is always slammed packed with so many different subjects you can experience with your child. To begin February we observe Black History Month. Then there is Groundhog Day, Valentine’s Day, if you live in Louisiana or neighboring state you may also have Mardi Gras and this year we have Leap Day. Not to mention February falls in the middle of winter and weather is one of my favorite themes. However, if you don’t have enough time to target every February celebration and had to pick one, I would choose black history.
It is important for us as parents, educators, and therapists to help preserve true history, especially during these times where racial tensions and negatives view about minorities’ abilities, worth and contribution to our nation are increasing. Despite some of the negative talking points African Americans continue to excel and it is important for our children to know that the opportunities they enjoy now were not always available. It is also important to showcase some of the characteristics all these historical figures have in common (see vocabulary list). If you want to end the month with a bang here are 5 ways to make it meaningful.
- Familiar/Unfamiliar: When sharing historical figures pick some not so famous ones.
- Variety: Choose a variety of people: men, women, children, past/present, literary, athletic, innovators, scientists, leaders, entertainers…
- Pace: you want your little one to understand and appreciate what you are sharing, so take your time, pace yourself. You can do this all year long.
- Personal Interest: Choose people that would personally pique your child’s interest. For instance, if your child enjoys dancing, pick iconic performers. Have a Super Soaker at home, share the true story.
- Connect: Share with your child why Black History is important and how it impacts them today and what they can do to preserve the legacy and build upon it.
- Don’t forget to introduce and use new vocabulary (see above).
The great thing about living in 2020, you can experience everyday learning right at your computer. Here are some great sights and books to share.
- The Undefeated has a great list with beautiful pictures of 44 Undefeated African Americans in History there is also a book available.
- One of my favorite illustrators is Vashti Harrison she has a series of “Little” books of Legends, Dreamers and Leaders. They are so beautiful and one page read. You can not go wrong with these books. My 7 year old loves them.
- A sweet video to watch is the now Oscar-Winning Short film Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry. This video is special to me because I have 3 daughters and when they were younger my husband made sure their hair was done before I would leave. There is also a book and guess who created the beautiful illustrations, yup the one and only Vashti Harrison.
- I love Brain Pop Jr., they have a video biography of Ruby Bridges with a quiz to follow. Don’t worry you don’t need a subscription to view it in February. Tip: Ask your child’s teacher if the school uses Brain Pop Jr. your child may have a user name and passcode to access all the videos.
- The African American Literature Book Club has a list of 150 Recommended African American Children’s Book. This list is expansive but is a good list too if you are searching for good books.
February should not be the only month we seek to include the contributions African Americans have made to American History but for now, we will continue to use February and bombard our little ones with greatness.