March 16, 2023 by Winnie Cheung 0 Comments

Parenting with a Big Heart: Starting Small to Think Big

I Am a 'Detective' to Answer My Kids' Big Questions

When my kiddo turned three years old, his world opened up. He would ask questions like “Where are the dinosaurs?” … “Will I grow taller than the trees?” … “Who is Grandpa’s Grandpa?” 

The world provides a deluge of information and children’s brains are soaking up every single drop. The best part is being by his side to discover answers together. I like to prompt him with questions or challenges in response to his questions, such as: “Have you heard of an asteroid?” or “Let’s go outside and see how tall trees are” or “You’ll need to talk to grandpa about that.” 

We are like detectives, solving all the questions the world has to offer. 

COVID Made Me Question This Approach

When the world shut down because of COVID-19 and some people mistakenly blamed Asian Americans as the cause of the pandemic, I felt our world get smaller.

My instincts were to shield my children from this rhetoric. We made careful choices on where we should go as a family. Even so, on a walk in a nearby park, people shied away from our family. 

My “detective” status felt revoked as I struggled to begin thinking about how to communicate the issues of bias and racism to my kids.

I Researched to Think About How to Respond

With a researcher’s mindset, I dug into reading research, articles, webinars and books (anything!)  I could find on how to talk to kids about race and racism. 

From what I read and heard, I knew that I should talk about racism early because research shows that even three year olds in the U.S. associate racial groups with negative traits. 

I knew that I should affirm their identity and make them proud to be third generation Chinese-Americans. I knew that it would involve life-long conversations. I knew all of these things — and yet, I had no idea where to start. I was nervous to do it wrong.

My Child Led the Way

While reading a book one night, my three-year-old said to me, “That person’s skin is different than mine, but that’s OK!” 

I was surprised because previous attempts to discuss skin color were met with more neutral responses. But there he was, starting the conversation. I picked up where he left off and we discussed other ways people are both similar and different. 

It felt like a win! 

We’ve since had more conversations and “solved” more questions like “What is melanin?” “Who are some Asian Americans who fought for civil rights?” and learning our own history, finally figuring out who “Grandpa’s grandpa” is and being proud of our own roots. 

There are so many questions ahead of us. 

For us, the concepts are small but the ideas are big. I hope that for parents who want to start the conversation on big topics like race or racism, they can start small, like appreciating each other for what makes us different and the same. 

Visit our interactive guide for parents and caregivers to use with children (about aged 2-6) to discuss identity, similarities and differences, race and racism. It’s here:

March 10, 2023 by admin 0 Comments

Social and Emotional Learning is a Super Power

Happy SEL Day!

SEL Day — a special annual celebration of social and emotional learning — is today! It’s a day for parents, caregivers, educators, and policymakers to promote the importance of helping little kids grow big hearts: What we do here EVERY day at Big Heart World.

To celebrate, we turned to a big-hearted friend — Darryl McDaniels, the legendary American rapper — to learn how SEL is a super power. He knows from his own lived experience the importance of social and emotional learning, and he has written a children’s book, “Darryl’s Dream,” to inspire today’s kids to embrace who they are and follow their dreams. 

4 Reasons SEL is a Super Power, According to Darryl "DMC" McDaniels
1. It's Education.

When CASEL (The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning) was founded nearly three decades ago, it coined the phrase “social and emotional learning” and asked the big question: What if education supported the social, emotional, and academic development of all children?

Since then, the movement has grown, with parents and educators across the country (and around the world) now recognizing that SEL is an integral part of children’s education. 

Here at Big Heart World, we define SEL as: 

  • Learning About Me — Awareness of self: identity & belonging, feelings and self-regulation
  • Learning About You — Awareness of others: empathy, appreciation of diversity
  • Learning About Us — Relationships with others: interpersonal strategies
2. It's Communication.

SEL starts the day a baby is born, when he or she is held by a trusted parent or caregiver. This back-and-forth between parent and child grows over time as children learn about who they are (their identity), how they fit into the world (belonging), and how to identify and describe all of the feelings that come with being human. These are the fundamental building blocks of SEL, which enable people to understand themselves and start to communicate with others. 

3. It's Participation.

SEL equips us to work with others. It’s not just about understanding and managing our own feelings. It’s about empathy — thinking about the experiences and feelings of other people — and listening to them so that we are able to truly collaborate with them. SEL gets kids ready to work together on projects, play together on teams, invent and discover. We can’t do it alone, we can only do it together — which is possible because of SEL. 

4. It's Elevation!

Through SEL, people learn how to dream BIG and work actively and collaboratively to make the world a better place — to stand up for others and to become global citizens. Only when we empathize with others, and celebrate the differences that surround us can we look across borders, identify critical challenges, and collaborate with others to solve problems. 

Learn More about SEL from DMC

Earlier this year, Big Heart World collaborated with The 74 to produce a special event about SEL, also featuring Darryl McDaniels. To learn more from him — and a panel of experts — about the power of SEL, please watch the full event, available online