Family Day

In Ontario we have a public holiday called “Family Day”, a day in the depths of February where most adults have the day off from work and children stay home from school for the purpose of spending time together. It is a day meant for us to relax and enjoy the wonderful people in our lives.
In honour of Family Day, I (Yiola) would like to share an interesting and inclusive way of thinking about family from the perspective of a child.  This idea comes from the descriptive findings from my research project on critical literacy practices of elementary school teachers.  In the Grade two classroom students designed their autobiographies and published books called “Selfologies”.  The published books include a variety of literacy process and forms of writing including: interviewing family members, writing narratives, developing timelines, creating family trees to mention just a few.
Instead of a traditional family tree that is a chart representing the family structure, often with the child at the bottom of the tree and the space for the father on one side and the mother on the other, the teacher used something different.  The teacher recognized the traditional family tree chart normalized the nuclear family and left no space for all the wonderful family structures that exist. The teacher introduced a “family circle”.  This graphic organizer places the child at the centre of the page and bigger circles that include family members surround the child (see image below).  This way of organizing the concept of family changes the perspective and value we place on “what is a family” and “who is in a family”.  The family circle empowers the child to decide on their own who is in their closest inner circle. That may be siblings, two mothers, a grandparent, a family friend. By using a new and improved structure we are teaching students how to read the world differently. Family today is a broader and more inclusive term.

The first image is of the children designing their family circles.

Image Family YC

Family Circle


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