Our names are Kate Sanderson and Grace Furia and we taught elementary school aged students the importance of being homeful. Together we were able to teach students in grades 2, 3, 4, and 5. For each grade, our lessons were adjusted to provide for the background in knowledge, reading, and writing. It was so amazing to see how much growth these kids were able to achieve in forty minutes with our instruction. Seeing the children understand what we were talking about makes us feel hopeful for a future in which we can end homelessness. We saw the kids opinions change and how they felt closer to the people that before they felt were so different from them. Working with the second grade, with students aged 7 to 8, the lesson and they way we went about teaching the lesson varied than to the fifth grade students, aged 10 and 11. Below I will explain how we taught the lessons and how the information was received.
How We Talked About Homelessness:
It is difficult to talk to any person much less a child about homelessness as it is a topic widely avoided in our society today. Much of the lessons taught in the elementary schools don’t focus on homelessness for a reason. Instead the focus is shifted to how a home makes you feel, we do this so that it’s easier for kids to understand what it’s like to not have a place to call home. It is important throughout all the lessons that you teach to make sure to not use any permanent words or meanings when talking about homelessness. For example: don’t use the words ‘homeless people’ this leaves a very negative connotation in our minds making the kids feel farther away from people without a home. This is the opposite effect that we want to have. We want the kids to feel closer to people without a home so we use words like ‘people experiencing homelessness’ instead. These words have less permanence and we use them because we hope that people experiencing homelessness will not have to experience it again. Something that I was afraid of before I taught the lessons was that someone would talk about a very negative experience with homelessness like seeing or being afraid of a person experiencing homelessness. However, I was wrong; the kids seemed very open to learning about this new concept and didn’t add any negative responses because we talked so positively and openly. That’s the key, these lessons do a very good job of easing kids into the concept of homelessness and there’s no way that you can negatively impact a kid’s mentality of homelessness if you make sure to listen and be positive.