Friday, November 15, 2013

Thanksgiving and Hunger--Facing Reality

I love holiday themes, up to a point.  Right now, many of my materials feature turkeys and a few food items.  I do this because school teachers also focus on it, and the kids are exposed to the vocabulary during their regular school day.  I am a related service to their education, so I need to support what is already happening.  Personally, I also love Thanksgiving traditions in my own family. 

One thing I try not to do though with some children is speak glowingly of massive Thanksgiving meals.  I don't make books about Thanksgiving meals (although I have used familiar children's literature about these meals). North Carolina is ahead of the pack in food insecurity in children; and some of my students are among these who don't know where the next meal is coming from. 

Click here to read the article

I also do not suggest Thanksgiving menus or ask kids to draw pictures of what belongs on a Thanksgiving table.

Go here for another article

I try to be sensitive to the issues of my kids, as I think all of you are.    I've seen anger in the eyes of my older students when I ask them what they did for Thanksgiving, so over the years, I've altered my questions to be more general.  When coming off of Thanksgiving, I don't talk about the gluttony that I enjoyed with my own family.  I'm blessed to be well off, but don't need to flaunt it.

I do spend a little time with the kids asking them what they are thankful for.  Sometimes we do a group "thankful project"--everyone has something they can appreciate in their lives.  The actual meal I've enjoyed, however, I keep low key, and only in vague terms, for they may not have had enough.  

It's a balance---offer the vocabulary, use the words of the dominant culture, but don't raise anxiety levels in children who are in need.



  1. Very well written post! This is sound advice for all of us working in the schools. It's easy to forget that not all kids have the same experiences. After Christmas, I have the students tell me 1 thing they got for Christmas, and they have to stop with 1 thing. I've never had a kid not be able to tell me 1 thing.

    1. Thanks for your nice words. You and I have both learned to be careful with what we assume.

  2. Your sensitivity to the circumstances of your students is a powerful reminder to us all. Thank you for sharing.


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