Talking Sticks and Sharing Circles

Talking Sticks and Sharing Circles

Guest contributor Alana Chernecki helps busy moms and educators create inspiring spaces for kids to live, learn, play and grow. As a former elementary school teacher and now mom of three young girls, she designs from an educator’s perspective, in order to foster creativity, independence, responsibility and joyful play. You can find out more about her work here: https://brillantedesign.ca/ and https://www.facebook.com/brillante.design/

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Does your family have meetings?

When I was a teacher, we began every Monday morning with a class meeting.

The format was a Sharing Circle.

Each child had the opportunity to share their voice in the circle, without interruption, anything that was on their mind.

They shared stories about their weekend, stories of adventure, friendships and heartache. It was an opportunity for me – and their friends – to know these children more deeply, and what was happening in their lives.

A sharing circle is considered traditional practice in some Indigenous communities, and are designed to ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to share their opinions and ideas.

Each child had the opportunity to have a voice and express their feelings – without judgement or interruption – when it is their turn.

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In a Sharing Circle, only the child holding the talking stick (a special tool that gives us the “courage to speak the truth and the power to speak from the heart”) is allowed to speak.  

I decided to bring the idea of the Sharing Circle into our family – as a way to share what is on our minds, to solve problems and to come to decisions.

In order for everyone to have equal opportunity in being heard, I felt we would all need representation on our Talking Stick.  

 

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Each member of the family chose a specific colour of yarn, and we took turns wrapping our yarn around the stick.

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In this way, each of us felt a sense of contribution, responsibility and ownership within the Circle.

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We use the Sharing Circle as a way to talk about family values, problems and disagreements, and as a way to work through these to come up with collaborative solutions.

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The girls had been struggling with getting along. There was fighting, hitting, hurtful words… I decided it was time to talk about how we show kindness as a family.

This is an example of the “Y Chart” we created on kindness. I asked the girls – “What is kindness? What does it look like? Feel like? Sound like?”

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They took turns sharing:

“Tickling”

“Gentle hands”

“Hugs

“Kisses”

“Playing”

After our sharing circle, the girls wrote {and illustrated} their ideas about kindness. We practiced kindness. For the next few days, I made a solid effort to notice kindness. We shared acts of kindness at dinner time, and I did a happy dance every time I witnessed kindness at home.

 

How do YOU have discussions as a family? What are your favourite ways to hear about what is on your child’s mind? How do you work through problems together? Please share your strategies below, I would LOVE to hear!

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