„It`s not fair!“ If we had a dollar for every time a child says that sentence, we`d all be millionaires. A working definition of fairness and clear steps to achieve equity will promote the growth of our children – so this article will focus on how to define equity, understand ownership, distinguish „good“ from „fair“ and achieve equitable outcomes. Understanding the concept of equity is crucial in a young person`s life, but especially important at school, where they are among their peers to compare themselves. In the classroom, some children receive accommodations to help them achieve their academic or behavioural goals. Some children will inevitably receive more attention from adults through special services. They may even need an individual behavior plan with built-in incentives that seem special or „not fair.“ As children become more exposed to the concept of equity, or in other words, justice, they will be more attentive to the needs of others and become more aware of their own. Fairness, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is „characterized by impartiality and honesty; Compliance with established rules. As a concept, equity is particularly difficult for young children to understand. Along with other qualities, such as kindness or responsibility, there are concrete actions to observe that can provide a basic understanding of the concept itself. However, fairness is found in the way we interact with each other, how we play a game, how we live life, etc. How many times have you heard a child say, „That`s not fair!“ and when you try to explain, the inevitable back and forth follows, and nowhere are they closer to understanding the situation. Given the growing anxiety and turmoil resulting from the pandemic lockdown, you may hear this exclamation more often than usual. Sometimes it`s just a child`s sentence when they`re upset or losing patience. In this case, it is worth digging a little to reveal their true feelings.
In general, however, when children reach the age of 4, they begin to understand the concept of equity, but need conversations and advice about what it means. If you think about it when children are younger, adults and older children in their lives teach them that fairness means that no one has a minute more at the computer. Or everyone gets the same snack. I have Asperger`s syndrome (mild autism), and many people on the autism spectrum (including me) have a very rigid understanding of what things are. Things can go in different ways, but the adults and older children in our lives only teach us one or two ways. Here are some other ways to explain fairness to children: In all fairness, we need to teach students two keywords and their Merriam-Webster definitions to better understand the idea of equity: I have Asperger`s syndrome (the milder end of the autism spectrum), so I understand good and evil in a very rigid way (many people on the autism spectrum understand well and wrong this way). If you say to an autistic child, „It`s not fair that you get more cookies than your siblings,“ that child will be more likely to understand that fairness means treating everyone in exactly the same way, unless it`s explained to them in another way. You might say, „There is only enough for you and your siblings to have 2 cookies each.
It doesn`t matter if he/she only wanted 1, but it`s not fair that you took 3. „If you say this to an autistic child (or really any child), they might understand that fairness means that everyone is happy with what they get, rather than using exactly the same tactics with everyone. Ownership is another important element of fairness. Everyone has the right to his property. It is important to help our children understand different types of goods – individuals, family, community. A useful idea is to talk about toys a child doesn`t want to share until their friends come, or to discuss sharing when deciding whether or not to bring toys to school. Children should also know that if they borrow all their pencils, they will not be able to write. Equity cannot be taught as easily as other character traits, but consistently, children will recognize fairness and behave fairly toward others. Every year, the students in my class have a lesson on fairness (or justice) and equality – they don`t know this until later. I will begin this lesson by asking for volunteers. I`m going to put something at the top of the board or on a shelf and ask two students to reach for it.
It can be a special object or just a marker. I will specifically call a larger, smaller volunteer. I always make sure these kids feel comfortable in the spotlight and you`ll see why. If the greatest student reaches the object, he will get it. Hurrah! But if the smallest student makes the attempt, the object will only be out of his reach. Then I ask the class for ideas – how can we help them? Once you`ve played a few tricks, ask your students to give the next prompts to get a little glimpse of their world. Then turn to literature to find more models of what is right and what is not. Use the following titles to help students reflect on how the characters in these stories have resolved their equity frustrations: Helping children understand equity is an important part of growing and practicing empathy.
When we understand what others need and what we may not need, we recognize our differences and think a little beyond ourselves. We can put ourselves in someone else`s shoes for a while and think about their life. I have Asperger`s syndrome (a less severe form of autism), and I`m a very literal and concrete thinker who doesn`t easily understand where the „gray areas“ are (often in autistic people). I didn`t think it was fair to think that my parents would make my brother (2 years younger than me and has no disability) easy for something I would have been reprimanded or corrected at his age. Or if one of us received more gifts from friends and family on vacation. That`s because I remembered adults saying things like, „Leanne, it`s not fair that you get more cupcakes than your brother,“ and I didn`t like the „fairness“ rule being broken! Innis, G. (2012, May 16). „Teaching equity to preschoolers is another way to develop their character.“ Expansion of Michigan State University. Excerpted on July 15, 2015 from msue.anr.msu.edu/news/teaching_fairness_to_preschoolers_is_one_more_way_to_build_character A child who recognizes fairness can also be more empathetic with parents who often try to do their best.