It's back to school for students across Ferguson, Mo., and the United States, and we've been preparing for that with a new offering on the Painting for Peace webiste. As protests spark once more on the anniversary of Michael Brown's death, teachers need tools to help them discuss unrest with their students.
"Painting for Peace in Ferguson" was written to be just such a tool in the aftermath of the riots in Ferguson in August 2014. Now, we have added specific curriculum, written for the book and aligned with the Common Core requirements.
We teamed with a grade school teacher to create the teacher's guide for students in Grades K-2 and Grades 3-5.
Despite parents' best efforts to protect children from today's harsh realities, most children still learn about current issues. If parents and teachers don't make the time for conversation, students may have a hard time understanding and expressing their feelings.
Several other resources exist on our site to help parents and teacher talk to youth about civil unrest, tolerance, answering hard questions and more.
Susan Shelton, a retired elementary teacher who now substitutes in the St. Louis region, said "I've read Painting for Peace [in Ferguson] to high school students, sparking a conversation about the different experiences of students in that district versus those in North County. They were able to ask questions they might not have asked otherwise, and gained an understanding for the different experiences of students elsewhere."
It's gratifying because we know teachers and educators embraced this book as soon as it came out and immediately began using it in their classrooms. From the beginning, this book has been a tool for opening dialogues with people of all ages and backgrounds.
Now that we are beginning to distribute the book nationally, I hope we can get it into more teacher's classrooms, school libraries and the hands of parents across the country to help children understand that during hard times, there are ways for all ages to help.