Monthly Theme: Honoring Children and Youth
When we think about the children and youth in our lives, likely many of the conversations we have with them are focused on the future. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” “When you’re older you’ll be better at it.” “When you’re an adult you’ll understand.”
The pressure children and youth feel to hit certain developmental milestones, be mature, and grow up detracts from the most beautiful gift they have – their childhood. For this month’s Playful News, we invite you to slow down, savor this season of life, and treasure who your child is in this moment.
One way you can engage in the moment with your child is by asking a daily question!
You can record their responses on video or write them in a notebook to create a memento to look back on as a family over the years. Here are a few questions to ask children:
- What do you like most about yourself right now?
- Who are your best friends and why do you like each other?
- What do you know how to do that you could teach me?
Notice that these questions are open-ended and invite responses beyond “yes” or “no,” which provides space to better understand the mind and heart of your child. Take turns as a family responding to the questions; you could even explore an interview format with multiple questions. For more ideas, try this blog post on Mumlyfe.
When we cherish who our children and youth are in this moment, we begin to see our communities at large in a different light. We may even start to think, “What is our collective responsibility to the children and youth who live here, and how do we honor who they are right now?”
In a child- and youth-centered community, if you went into any business, you would see evidence that they are considering how children also come into their space and not just the grown-ups. You might see fewer ‘no skateboarding’ signs, and instead find safe areas to skate, scooter, or bike all over the city and not just confined to parks. Front desks and service counters would be at heights that are accessible to younger patrons. Materials that are intended for touching, playing with, and exploring would be more readily available. Children would know they can climb, run, and play on the things they find in their built environments. You would encounter playful elements in everyday places like bus stops and sidewalks. Spaces would feel safe for all children and youth, and they would feel welcome wherever they went.
If you’re interested in learning more about this idea, check out our blog on Child and Youth Centered Communities.
To better understand the perspectives of youth in the community, the University of Washington Tacoma started the Action Mapping Project to create Youth Maps. The map and indicators, produced using thousands of responses from middle- and high-school-aged youth, show where young people in Tacoma feel safe and where they prefer to spend their time during the day and at night. These maps are a visual reminder that the way we see our communities and the way children and youth see our communities looks different, and it’s important to know how and why.
Go on a Color Scavenger Hunt in your neighborhood!
All you’ll need for this activity is a paper bag, markers, crayons, or colored pencils in a variety of colors, an adventurous spirit, and an eye for detail. Choose the colors you’d like to search for on your scavenger hunt, and as you come across them on your neighborhood walk, add them to your bag!
By the end of this activity you’ll have a spectrum of colors filling your bag and a renewed sense of belonging in the neighborhood you call home.
If you have older children or youth, you can extend this activity so that everyone is engaged on your neighborhood walk! Invite older children to take photos to explore what’s important to them in their spaces. You can even post your photos and Use #MyPierceCounty #MyTacoma #Greentrike to share your adventures with us!
Month of the Military Child
The month of April is designated as the Month of the Military Child to pay tribute to the resilience of military children and recognize the sacrifices and contributions military families make every day.