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How Your Kids Can Help Haiti (page 2)

 How Your Kids Can Help Haiti

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Updated on Jan 25, 2010

Many parents are wondering at what age it is appropriate to talk to children about disasters such as the earthquake in Haiti. “You have to take into account several pretty big aspects,” says Teal Bucci, “and one is the developmental appropriateness of such conversations and the ability of students at various age levels to be able to comprehend things that are outside of their world.”

Teal Bucci explains that parents need to put things in a context that children can understand. And no, you don’t want to talk about great tragedy or devastation with four- and five-year-olds. But with upper elementary-age kids and middle school kids, you can talk about things that are happening around the globe. “You can look at maps and relate what you’re trying to teach that child to their world,” Teal Bucci says. “You talk about where Haiti is with respect to where the child lives, and then you can talk about where grandma lives, for example—so they can see that relativeness of the distances compared to where Haiti is.”

Teal Bucci also suggests that parents help children look at similarities and differences between their lives and the lives of children in Haiti. What does education look like here? What does education look like in Haiti? For example, Teal Bucci explains, most families in Haiti cannot afford to send all of their children to school—they have to choose which of their children will get an education. Children in Haiti sit on benches in school. They have one pencil that they sharpen with a razor blade, and often walk as far as three miles to get to school each day. (For more details, visit Teal Bucci’s Haiti Empowerment Project.)

UNICEF offers a number of terrific resources if you’re looking to have conversations such as these with your children. UNICEF’s World Heroes game allows children to understand the value of volunteering. Parents can play the game with their children and use it as a springboard for discussion. How can we become world heroes? Why should we?

As UNICEF says, “Today it is your turn to change the world.”

Visit Teach UNICEF to find more free resources, including online games, for educators and parents to use with children in grades 3 through 12. Topics address global affairs issues such as poverty, gender equality, child survival, child labor, and water and sanitation.

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