“It is important to have diverse children, to have diverse families in a school so you know how to include everyone… you don’t just go to the people who are like you, you reach out and embrace everyone.” Nathan, student, Peralta Elementary School, Oakland, CA
Nathan’s words capture the message of a new short film made in collaboration by Not In Our School and Our Family Coalition. The film Our Family offers students a chance to see and talk about some of the many different family configurations we have in our communities.
|Subjects from Our Family, from left to right: the D'Ambrosio family, the Wellsfry family, and the Irving family.
Although families today come in all forms, sizes, and varying identities, children can go through their entire elementary years without seeing the rich diversity of families around them reflected in their schooling. They might only learn about the stereotypical family configuration: two parents or caregivers of the same background and their biological children living under one roof. Yet that is not the reality for a large number of children. The reality is that children come from families living in one home or two, being raised by only a mother, only a father, by grandparents or by two parents or caregivers. Some have parents or caregivers of different ethnic backgrounds, or who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Others have family members who are incarcerated, while some have parents who passed away or who live in different countries. Some families have adopted children, transgender children or family members with disabilities. Many have extended family members living under one roof.
Most families have so many things in common: they share love, get into conflicts, face life’s daily routines, overcome challenges together, and take care of one another. Yet they are also unique and special in their own ways. As children grow up, they need to see, hear, and learn about people like themselves as well as learn about others who might be different from them. They need to feel that their families are welcomed and accepted while also being reflected in the curriculum and world of schooling.
Subjects from Our Family, from left to right: the Cobb family, the Lien/Williams family, and the Cotter family.
Our Family has a clear purpose: to show children in grades K-5 that there are many kinds of families, to help them appreciate their own family configuration, and to be open to those who are different from them. The film and activities are also designed to open conversation, encourage constructive dialogue, and to give children the opportunity to share about their own families in a supportive and accepting way. Watch this film today in your classroom or with your children, and begin an important journey of acknowledging and celebrating family diversity.
The film is free and can be easily accessed on YouTube. It will soon be available with Spanish subtitles and accompanied by a lesson guide.
To download the free lesson plan that accompanies the film, please click here.
JOIN NIOS for a Webinar featuring Our Family
Not In Our School will be holding a virtual workshop featuring our new film and its accompanying lesson plan.
Date: Thursday, April 7, 2016
Time: 5:30 PST (8:30 EST)
Duration: 1 hour
CLICK HERE for more details and to register.