Monday, January 20, 2014

Even a 3-Year-Old Can Learn the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

What a rewarding day! If you don't think your children - even the primary age ones - are listening, check out what my 3-year-old niece knew about Martin Luther King Jr. On the way to our MLK Jr. Day of Service activity, my 7-year-old daughter gave an impromptu Civil Rights Movement quiz to my niece. Both had me beaming with pride. 

Me: "So we're going to help clean up a community garden today to celebrate Dr. King's birthday. He helped people, so to celebrate his national holiday, we're going to help people.

3 YO: "If we're going to help people that means we're volunteers. I learned that on Sesame Street."

Hooray for smart children and for Sesame Street!!!!

7 YO: "I've got a pop quiz for you. What award did Martin Luther King win?"

3 YO: "The Nobel Peace Prize!"

Astonished, my daughter and I screamed as my niece explained that she learned about the Nobel Prize creating a collage in her preschool class. She even gave an accurate definition of the word collage when my daughter incorporated that question into her quiz.

7 YO: "Okay, okay, here's another Martin Luther King Pop Quiz. Did the man that shot Martin Luther King go to jail?"

Me: "Uh, lets not talk about that. Lets keep it positive. Do another question."

Self-check: Remember there is a big difference in maturity and knowledge between 7 and 3.

7 YO: "Okay. Here's another pop quiz: Did Rosa Parks go to jail for sitting in the front of the bus?"

3 YO: "Yes!"

My daughter goes on to explain in detail how Dr. King taught people - especially those who didn't look alike - to be kind and fair to each other. She even related examples from the Movement like blacks and whites not being able to use the same facilities to her multicultural collection of friends at her school today. I'm elated as we pull up to the Attwood Community Gardens and Urban Farm, where we spend the next 90 minutes raking and hauling leaves, cleaning up the grounds of this valuable neighborhood resource.

I hope you did something fantastic to celebrate Dr. King today even if it was just meditating on his message and legacy. We don't always make it out to an activity on the holiday, but today we did - and we were more blessed than those we helped.

A moving soundtrack elevated our whole day: There was great programming on all of the airwaves from independent to mainstream. After hearing Dr. King's speeches, remembrances of Movement activists, and reflections of others, we were still singing Stevie Wonder's "Happy Birthday" anthem to Dr. King as we walked into the garden.

Even if you don't think your children are listening to you, keep teaching them through conversation and experiential learning. They are paying attention to those important lessons - and they're passing them on.

Keep on Enjoyceinglife. Sometimes it's quite amazing.



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