Many thanks to our guest blogger
Michele Hemenway Pullen, ECED Facutly, Ivy Tech Community College
It can be daunting to consider the legacy of Dr King even for adults. Where to start? Dr King led many lives wihtin his lifetime, as we know and understand it. History is continuing to define and redefine what his presence means to us.
For young children it is always best to provide them with action based information. Rather than fill them with lots of facts and knowledge we decide is important, it is best we celebrate this day In some simple ways that very young children can connect with in their daily lives.Over time more complex issues about his life can be added.
So, what are those things best for young children?
I would start with an understanding that Dr King was a man who cared deeply about the lives of others and DID something about it. He believed that EVERYONE could serve. Service is something young children can do in many forms. Be a “helper.” It’s that simple. Dr King was a “helper.” We talk often about fire fighters and other community helpers. Why not add activists and social justice leaders to that list? Dr King certainly would meet the standard of Community Helper. So, read books about him to young children, let them know he was a very special helper who wanted all children to have a home, enough food to eat, a fair chance and a good life.
These are simple things that young children can understand. So, that day, perhaps pack a backpack with food, other items and bring it to an agency that serves children. We don’t need to give young children grim details. We just need to say, we are also helpers, like Dr King, who want all families to have parents who have jobs, food, clothing and shelter.
We can show them photos of Dr King speaking, listen to it in the background- let them hear his thunderous voice. Explain to them he used his “Outside VOICE” to make sure everyone heard his message of love and equality.
For the very very young, just helping to do something without a lot of explanation is plenty but having images of Dr King available as we do all other cultural icons and heroes is important. A great poster of Dr King can be purchased online at www.americanswhotellthetruth.org along with other images of courageous citizens.
A Childcare facility in Chicago creates this diorama each year, studies the book pictured and then each family picks a simple service project, as described above.