How to talk about MLK to children

On January 16, 2017 countless people will be taking a day off to celebrate and remember Martin Luther King Jr. When going over the calendar with my class I always try to prepare them for any changes to the normal schedule, including long weekends so naturally MLK day came up. Now let’s be honest here, the story of the Civil Rights Movement is not a pretty one. It involves some really terrible things, segregation, murder, imprisonment, and house bombing to name a few. I do not want my students going home and telling their parents “Well Ms. Caitlyn said MLK was shot and died and people blew up his brother’s house.” So I decided to go about it in a different way.

I decided to talk to my students about MLK and his ability to not use violence when solving problems. In both books that I read they focused on him using his words. How when he was a child he envied his father’s use of “big words” and how he wanted to one day also have “big words.” We were able to take the lesson of using our words to solve problems and apply it to our classroom. In a previous post I spoke about how in our class saying “I’m sorry” is not how we solve problems and we have to use our words and find out what we can do to repair the broken bond.

I know that talking about the Civil Rights Movement and Race can be really challenging with kids. We don’t want to say the wrong thing or present the reality of our history at too early an age. Yet it is important that they can recognize the movement and one of the key people who led the Civil Rights Movement. By looking closer at this key part of our history and finding a way to make it relevant to my students, I was able to not only talk to them about Dr. King but also re-enforce something that my students are working on learning every day


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