One of the many things that make second graders so unique and appealing is their love of order, facts and making sense of the world piece by piece. When this order is challenged, they draw on skills highlighted in our social-emotional learning curriculum such as managing emotions and respecting different preferences. We encourage them to take responsibility not only for daily tasks but also for their own feelings and needs. And all of these skills come to bear as our 7 and 8 year-olds explore issues of identity, equity and diversity.
What makes a family?
How do groups of people live and believe in different things?
What are the reasons that life easier for some people and harder for others?
These are just a few of the questions that our second graders grapple with as they build a better understanding of themselves and of others. During a classroom meeting conversation about sharing classroom learning tools, they think about ways for everyone to get what they need to succeed. When the class delves into their Family Unit, every student is encouraged to share what makes their own family unique. Classmates celebrate the differences among them and connect through the commonalities. Every family is a snowflake, they explain, each different in its own special way. Difference and equity are themes as they learn about the Olympics, past and present. They learn about historic inequity of access for women in Ancient Greece, and delight in meeting a real live Olympian, Michael Lucca, who won a medal in the ball throw in the 2012 Special Olympics. Now, as an ambassador for the Special Olympics of Rhode Island, Michael helps children in schools understand intellectual differences and how all athletes, regardless of differences, share the same love of sports and participation.
Second graders also participate in multi-age Diversity Workshops three times throughout the year. Workshops evolve from year to year, but recent ones have included discussions about being an upstander, respecting each other’s physical space and bodies, finding the courage to be true to your inner self, and appreciating neurodiversity within all of us as learners.