Parent Support & Resources

Teaching Young Children About Black History

Valentine’s Day might be the obvious occasion one thinks about during February but it’s also Black History Month!

Why is February Black History Month?

February was chosen because it includes the birthdays of both Frederick Douglass, an abolitionist (someone who wanted to end the practice of enslaving people), and former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln. President Lincoln led the United States during the Civil War, which was primarily fought over the enslavement of Black people in the country.

Black History Month was created to focus attention on the contributions of African Americans in the United States. It honors all Black people from all periods of U.S. history, from the enslaved people first brought over from Africa in the early 17th century to African Americans living in the United States today.

Among the notable figures often spotlighted during Black History Month are, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, who fought for equal rights for Blacks during the 1950s and ’60s; Thurgood Marshall, the first African American justice appointed to the United States Supreme Court in 1967, and former U.S. President Barack Obama, who was elected the first-ever African American president of the United States in 2008.

Why is it important to talk about Black History with children?

Black History is such an important part of the history of America. Children should know and understand the struggles that African Americans faced in this country and also the rich contributions they have made to its progress. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies as young as 6 months can see differences based on race. Toddlers can recognize biases related to race by age 3 and kids can be pretty set in their racial beliefs by age 12. Talking about Black history early on may help future generations to grow up in an anti-racist world.

How can you teach kids about Black History?

You may not always think about Black History in your everyday life, but there are so many ways to spark children’s interest in it. Here are a few simple ways to teach kids about Black History:

  1. Think of the long list of African American scientists, inventors, professors, politicians, musicians, and athletes who have made significant contributions to our country. Then find ways to squeeze them into your discussions with children.
  2. Highlight current events in the news that impact Black History. Events like the inauguration of the first Black President and first female Black/Asian-American Vice-President are noteworthy and worth watching with children.
  3. Teach children about racism and how to live a life of inclusion. The best way to do this is to be a positive example yourself and demonstrate inclusion for children. Other events that have been in the news over the past few years may not be the types of things we want to talk about with children. But it is important that children of all races know and understand the plight of Black people in America. This will help children understand that racism exists, and they can play an active role in minimizing it.
  4. Explore African American culture. If children are interested in a particular subject, encourage them to explore parts of African American culture within that subject. This can include dance, art, literature, music, and sports. Encourage your child to learn more about the impact African Americans have made on their chosen field. Visit a museum near you during Black History month to find an exhibit that teaches about Black culture. There are many aspects of Black culture to explore.
  5. Beyond the internet, don’t forget the public library! During, themed months (like Women’s History Month or Asian American Heritage Month), most local libraries display related picture books. They may also schedule book readings about different cultures and offer activities and lectures for adults and children. There are many wonderful authors and poets, and libraries have their own list of books especially during Black History Month.

*Resources: National Geographic, PBS Kids

Learning about different cultures around us, sparks creativity and passion. You never know where children’s inspiration may lead, and one day they may create something beautiful based on the guidance and teaching you help to provide.

Here’s a beautiful poem written and published in the Pleasanton Patch Newspaper, by a young student, Jamison Cloyd, in honor of Black History Month…

Parent Support & Resources

How To Deal With Bullying

Bullying can exist in many forms. Here’s how families can deal with bullying in schools.

What is passive bullying?

Passive bullying occurs when someone intentionally or unintentionally excludes an individual. For example, excluding Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer from the “reindeer games” was one form of intentional passive bullying. During Valentine’s Day, people experience passive bullying when their peers receive Valentine’s cards, gifts or flowers but they do not, as they are left out of the Valentine’s celebration. Passive bullying occurs because the people involved are not considering the way that those around them feel.

Kids often don’t tell adults about bullying because they feel embarrassed, ashamed, or confused. However, they might be more expressive during this time and hint towards being bullied by another. Based on this, they may not want to give a Valentine to a particular classmate. Or they might worry that classmates won’t include them.

What to do if a child talks about being bullied?

Having a child turn to you about being bullied is a very emotional and tough position to handle. It’s important to practice effective listening and avoid asking questions like “what did you do to cause it?” You also don’t want to interrupt, criticize, or minimize what your child has experienced. Instead, focus on what is being said. It also helps to make these six encouraging statements to your child:

“It Took Courage to Tell Me”

Sometimes, kids keep silent because they are worried that reporting bullying will cause it to get worse. Other kids are worried about an adult’s response. For instance, they question whether adults will do anything about the bullying. And they worry that they will be encouraged to fight back when they are too scared to do anything. As a result, it’s important to praise your child for speaking up about the bullying. Acknowledge how difficult it is to talk about it. Reporting bullying is not only brave but also the best way to overcome bullying.

“This Is Not Your Fault”

Sometimes kids feel like they did something to cause the bullying. Telling an adult just deepens their embarrassment and shame. Remind your child that bullying is a choice the bully makes and that the responsibility for the bullying lies with the bullies. Also, be sure your child knows that bullying happens to a lot of people, but together you are going to figure out what to do.

“How Do You Want to Handle It?”

Asking your child how to handle the bullying demonstrates that you trust your child’s decisions. It also empowers your child to move out of a victim mentality and develop a feeling of competency again.

“I Will Help You”

While teaching your child problem-solving skills is important, do not delay contacting school officials, especially if your child has been threatened or physically harmed, or the bullying is escalating. It’s also important to bring school personnel into the loop even when it is relational aggression. All types of bullying have consequences and any delay in getting outside help could make things worse for your child.

“Let’s Keep This From Happening Again”

Getting your child to move beyond bullying incidents and think about the future is key. Aside from practical advice like walking to class with a friend or eating lunch with a buddy, have your child identify where the bullying hot spots are in the school. If possible, your child should avoid these areas. Additionally, get your child involved in outside activities and find things that will build self-esteem. Also, listen to your child about what might work. Then, do your best to help put those ideas into action.

“Who Has Your Back?”

This may sound like a silly question, but when it comes to bullying, your child’s peers can do a lot to help prevent future bullying incidents. Research has shown that friendships help prevent bullying. Get your children to think about the kids they can count on at school. Remember, the compassion you show towards children being bullied will help them cope with the situation and feel loved.

Health & Nutrition

Teaching Young Children About Good Oral Health

As we move into February, our second month of setting healthy habits for 2023, FIRST 5 Santa Clara County celebrates National Children’s Dental Health Month. This is the perfect time to promote the benefits of proper oral hygiene because developing these dental habits from the beginning helps children get the best start on a lifetime of health. Teaching young children to keep their brand-new teeth healthy and clean can be challenging especially with the vast amount of information available at your finger tips. The American Dental Association helps to simplify all this.

Teach children the importance of their teeth by discussing:

  • Why we need teeth. Our teeth are important because they help us talk properly, chew our food and give us beautiful smiles!
  • Characteristics of our teeth. Our teeth are hard, have some sharp or cutting edges and are strong. If our teeth were soft and weak, we couldn’t chew, it would be hard to talk, and our teeth might break.
  • The number and purpose of baby (primary) teeth. When did you get your teeth? [When you were a baby.] Why do babies need teeth? [To learn how to talk and so that they can eat solid food.] How many baby teeth do children get? [Children get 20 teeth by the time they are 3 or 4 years old.]
  • Sets of teeth in a lifetime. Will you have these 20 teeth your whole life? [No.] What happens to your teeth when you get to be 5 years old or older? [Your teeth start to come out and you lose your baby teeth. As children get bigger, they need bigger, stronger teeth. Your 20 baby teeth will be replaced by 32 permanent teeth.] These permanent teeth are made to last the rest of your life! So, we get two sets of teeth during our life: baby teeth (primary teeth) and adult teeth (permanent teeth).

Teeth are a special part of our body and do several very important jobs throughout our lives.

Teach children that cleaning our teeth helps keep them strong and healthy by discussing:

  • What can you do to keep your teeth clean and healthy? [Brush your teeth.] How often should you brush your teeth? [Twice a day.] Why do you use toothpaste? [Cleans better than just water, gets the food off your teeth, makes your teeth stronger, makes your mouth taste good.] How much fluoride toothpaste should you put on your toothbrush? [You only need a very little bit of toothpaste on your toothbrush — about the size of a little green pea.] Move the toothbrush back and forth gently in short strokes. Brush the top, front, and back sides of each tooth. Use a child-size toothbrush that is easy to hold. Get a new toothbrush when the bristles are bent and worn out.
  • What is plaque. When you brush your teeth at night, they feel clean and your mouth tastes good, if you don’t brush your teeth before going to bed, how does your mouth feel when you wake up in the morning? [Tastes bad, smells bad, teeth feel sticky.] That is because there is something else that gets on your teeth besides the food you eat. It’s called plaque. Although you can’t see it, plaque is a sticky, clear film that is forming on your teeth all the time.
  • How plaque contributes to cavities. Plaque is bad for your teeth because it contains germs. The germs in the plaque can hurt your teeth by making a little hole called a cavity. What do you think happens if you take a nice strong tooth and put holes in it? [It isn’t as strong anymore. The tooth gets weaker.] Plaque and cavities make our teeth weaker that’s why it is so important to brush all the plaque off our teeth. You should brush two times a day, once in the morning and then before going to bed at night.
  • Proper nutrition. There is another way we can help keep our teeth clean and healthy. That is by eating and drinking healthy foods. The foods we eat are just as important for keeping our teeth healthy as they are for keeping our bodies healthy. Eating a mix of healthy foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner is the best way to keep your teeth and whole body in good shape. Don’t drink too much sugary drinks or eat too many sweets.

Now we know how important it is to keep our teeth clean. We should brush two times a day, remove plaque and eat healthy foods.

Teach children why it is important to visit the dentist by discussing:

  • Why is it important to visit the dentist? The dentist is a friendly doctor who will help keep your teeth healthy and strong.
  • The role of the dentist.
  • The dentist’s office- What interesting things did you see in your dentist’s office? [Discuss answers, which might include the exam chair, special light, special tools, dental mask and gloves, etc.] Your dentist has all sorts of interesting things in the office. The special chair moves up and down so that people of different sizes can sit in it, and the dentist can see easily into all their mouths. The light helps your dentist see into mouths, too. Your dentist also has some other special things in the office. The little mirror lets your dentist see your back teeth; the “feeler” tool helps the dentist count your teeth; the x-ray machine takes pictures of the insides of your teeth; the bib protects your clothing; and there is even a little hose to spray water into your mouth.
  • The dental team- What other people might you see at your dentist’s office? Who else works there? [Receptionist, dental assistant, dental hygienist.] The receptionist works at the desk and greets you when you come in. The dental assistant helps the dentist by getting the exam room ready. The dental hygienist also helps the dentist and may clean your teeth with special cleaners.
  • The dental exam- What is your dentist looking for when checking your teeth? Your dentist counts your teeth, sees if you are brushing properly, checks to make sure your teeth are growing the correct way, and looks for cavities. Your dentist also checks your tongue and the inside of your mouth to make sure they are healthy, too! If you have any questions about your teeth or how to take care of them, ask your dentist. Your dentist is a friendly doctor who wants you to have healthy, shining teeth.

Teaching children about their teeth, how to take care of their teeth daily and visiting a dentist for regular check-ups are three fundamental components for lifelong bright and healthy smiles!!

Please visit our Oral Health Care page for more information on age-appropriate oral health care tips and community resources for oral health education, dental insurance and dental clinics.