Facilitator’s Frequently Asked Questions
Young children are very concrete, and they do not have an understanding of the permanence of death. What is important to them is our affect as we answer their questions concretely and simply. They read our emotions and body language first, and then decide if something is anxiety-producing or scary. Our emotions permeate theirs. Therefore self regulation, and an understanding of our own responses to death as a natural phenomenon of loss makes a difference. In this case, we are talking about non-familial relationships. Being sad and missing someone is something we want to model.
Children of all ages are constantly trying to understand the world. If they feel they do not have a satisfactory answer, they will continue to ask until they feel comfortable. They can intuit when an answer is missing authenticity.
Part of facilitating Ideal18 is to coach all participants in respecting social cues. Even with training, some additional facilitation in this area may be needed. Facilitators, including teachers, parents, and elder center staff may need to gently remind participants that some children (or elders) do not like physical contact in the same way. The facilitator can then suggest and model how to develop other ways to connect in a warm, caring fashion. This can take place through hand gestures, caring language, images and drawings etc.
Food may not be given to children by individual elders unless the school allows it, and it is for every single child present. It needs to be packaged according to the school’s policy. Gifts are not encouraged either. This needs to be explored on a case by case basis. For example, a grandfriend traveled to Israel and brought back dreidels for the whole class. In that case the school allowed the gift. On another occasion, the grandfriend drove by a child’s home on her birthday and brought a gift; the gift was not given in front of other children.
This rarely becomes an issue. Before Ideal18 encounters begin, we prepare children and elders for the potential of such an event by reminding them of the developmental level of the participants and what this might mean. When a child or grandfriend says something inappropriate, we facilitate the moment and try to create a learning opportunity. Disciplining is only for the teachers or the specific child’s parent if present. If there is a recurrent issue, Program Directors may need to be involved, or participants excluded.