For several years now, I’ve been very active in my community and online, advocating and organizing for social and racial justice, especially in our schools. I’ve learned that this fight we’re in is not a small one. Battles will be won and lost, but we won’t win any wars if we burn ourselves out along the way. If we are going to resist the fascism that threatens to overtake our country (and indeed our world), we’ll need to hunker down and get ready for the long haul.
Thus, as we approach the impending doom of a Trump presidency, I’ve been thinking a lot about reflection, self-care… and writing.
Writing is a gift I got from my dad; it’s a gift I want to pass on to my girls. Throughout my life, it’s been my number one, go-to strategy to problem-solve, let off steam, celebrate or process the world around me.
With that in mind, I’m reblogging a post I did a year ago on writing reflection with kids, which seens even more relevant today. #Resistance won’t mean anything if we don’t survive the next for years. And with all the hate speech and bigotry I’m seeing celebrated around me…
Well, let’s just say, I won’t be taking a break from writing any time soon.
I’ve been writing a lot about writing with kids lately. It’s gotten me to think about how important the act of reflection is. Moreover, I’ve been thinking about how the reflection process can be made even more meaningful when it’s shared.
Recently, I ran across this post by Natasha Younge offering tips on reflecting on the transition to the New Year. I really appreciated her advice and thought it could serve as a framework for family reflection on the personal successes and challenges we’ve faced over the past year, and goals and dreams for the coming year.
I’ve always believed it’s important to share personal achievements and challenges with kids. Working with adolescents as a public middle and high school teacher over the years taught me how important it is for kids to see caring adults model not only success but adversity as well. If you ever remember thinking that being “all grown up” meant having all the answers, you know what I mean. We can’t expect our kids to cultivate perseverance or resilience, if we are not willing to share our own fears and failings with them (in age-appropriate ways of course!)
That said, I decided to start a new tradition with my family. What if we shared our year-end reflections together? This can be done either through writing or just shared conversation. We are big fans of what we call Table Topics so this is already something we do with regularity. (We started off with commercially available cards, and quickly graduated to coming up with our own unique and quirky questions.)
In that vein, I’ve adapted Natasha Younge’s questions for our family. The girls already have required writing each day in their school writing journal, so they could easily be used for writing ideas and to share. (It is amazing to me how much my kids LOVE reading what they write for me. It never fails to blow me away how much kids want their hearts and minds to be SEEN and HEARD!
Family Year-End Review
Reflecting on the Year Gone By
- What was your “personal theme song” for the year?
- List three lessons have you learned about yourself or about the world this year.
- Describe one personal quality you developed this year. (Need a list for ideas? Check out this from Danea Horn.)
- Share your biggest achievement.
- Describe your biggest challenge.
- What do you want to let go of this year?
Visioning the New Year to Come
- What would you choose as personal theme song for the coming year?
- List three personal goals you’d like to set for yourself.
- Describe three school/career related goals you’d like to set for yourself.
- What quality would you like to develop in the new year?
Try it out and let me know what you think… I’ll be sharing our reflections on this reflections activity in a coming post.
What do you think? How do you or your family reflect on the transition to the New Year?
Ali Collins is an educator, community organizer and mom. She lives with her husband and twin girls in San Francisco, CA.
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