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Big Conversations with Little Children consists of two main parts:Part I: Preparing for Difficult Conversations addresses how to cultivate understanding and partnership among the adults involved. Here you will find suggestions on questions to ask parents to determine the best way to approach a child's questions or concerns. Part I also helps you anticipate three types of conversations or questions to be prepared for: XConversations between a parent and teacher. This might involve the family member asking the teacher for advice, support, or suggestions (such as a father asking the teacher about how to tell his child about a miscarriage) or the teacher letting a family adult know about something the child brought up (such as a question about gender). XConversations between the teacher and the individual child (such as speaking with a child who experienced a death in the family or a child who is questioning the major illness of a family member). XConversations between the teacher and a class or group of children (such as discussing ways the community and children are affected by a natural disaster or the death of a classmate). Part I includes an overview of need-to-know information for having important conversations with families and with young children, specifically about ensuring developmental appropriateness, maintaining neutrality, speaking with parents first, perceiving emotions, and evaluating the context of a conversation. It also offers guidance for determining what to share among other adults and staff in the school.Part II: Conversation Topics addresses specific subjects of potentially difficult conversations you might have with a young child: XFamily topics cover issues that happen at home and require especially close or sensitive communication with the family. XIllness and death topics include those that all children might experience, such as the death of a classroom pet or a teacher's illness, as well as those that are more personal to a given child, such as the death of a relative or a sibling's disease. XSocial issues topics address conversations around race, gender, and other cultural matters, such as one preschooler telling another she can't be Princess Elsa because she is Black or a child wondering why someone has a mom and a dad while someone else has two dads. XUpheaval and violence topics offer ways to reply to children's concerns—whether about a crisis that is far away, such as a terror event the child has seen or heard about on television, or one that is closer to home, such as a storm that ruined people's homes or a shooting in the community or school.
Early childhood education expert Dr. Lauren Starnes has completed dual-doctoral programs in both child development and educational leadership. She currently holds the position of vice presi-dent of early childhood education for Primrose School Franchising Company, where she supports curriculum development, implementation, and evaluation. Previously she served as the company's executive director of professional development, leading and facilitating instructor-led and eLearning professional development for all stakeholders in the over 420 Primrose Schools. Prior to that she led the early childhood education department for a private education company, authoring their proprietary early childhood curriculum and leading professional development creation and delivery. Lauren has worked at every level of early childhood education. While she began her formal career teaching at the university level, she has prior experience teaching within preschools, consulting and serving as a support professional for children with autism, and serving as an embedded instructional coach for preschool teachers. She has worked as a school principal for multiple schools and remains actively involved as a voice for early childhood education in various professional associations. When not working, Lauren enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, and cheering on her two sons in sports. She lives in Marietta, Georgia, near Atlanta.Visit Lauren at drlaurenstarnes.com