January 14, 2021

Afterschool To-Go | Resource Nook: Civic Discourse

By Cassandra Wambach |  

The past year has been hard on all of us, but especially our young people. On top of living through a pandemic, kids are being faced with navigating confusing and often conflicting information on the state of our country and our world. Facilitating conversations about current events can be overwhelming: how do we manage the many different perspectives young people bring to the table? How can we stay truthful, without instilling fear or presenting too much personal bias? Many of our young people are in desperate need of a space to discuss these issues, and as the National Afterschool Association says: your influence matters. Here, you can find resources and tips on how to help young people discuss, learn about, and process tumultuous recent events. 

Civic Discourse and Afterschool Resources 

The resources provided were hand-picked based on the quality of content and variety of age group appeal. Some of them are tailored for a young audience, while others are well suited for teens. These are just a few of the many resources we provide in our digital library. 

Resource List

todd-trapani-MfCi2Z8F684-unsplash_NEW.jpgConversation Tips

  • Encourage students to use “yes, and” statements. This can promote respectful and productive dialogue
  • For younger children, try using simple language. For example: it’s important that we follow rules and use our words instead of violence. How can we respect others even when we disagree? What do all Americans have in common?
  • For older students, encourage them to think deeply. For example: The events at the capitol transitioned from peaceful protests into illegal activity. How could this have gone differently? We have seen many people protest injustice this year, and not everyone agrees on what is fair. How can we have civil conversations with people we disagree with? 

Final Thoughts

As educators and afterschool staff, you have a unique opportunity to provide space for your students to discuss current issues. For many of these young people, systemic inequality and turbulence is not new, so creating a safe space for them is imperative. For other students, these conversations may be new and scary. Ultimately, the young people you work with are looking to you for support, and as always, we thank you for working hard to provide it.