Updated: May 18, 2021
Some of the themes that surround National Sorry Day or National Reconciliation Week in Australia are quite heavy for students to grasp in primary school. However, it is important for your students to begin to gain an understanding as to why these are such essential events on the Australian annual calendar.
As members of the Australian community, we should all be armed with the knowledge of wrongdoings of the past to move forward in understanding for our future. The students in your classroom are the future of Australia.
By relating your lessons to your students and their understandings of the world, you will be able to start to communicate the important values and themes of National Sorry Day and National Reconciliation Week, without having to get into the details that younger students, in particular, may not be ready to comprehend.
Here are a few ways we have taught students about these events that are age-appropriate and deal with the values and themes of the day:
Reflect on what it means to be sorry. Ask students to remember and share a time they have been sorry, as well as explain their experience.
Define the meaning of the words ‘sorry' and ‘reconciliation'. Read stories with these themes and discuss how it relates to National Sorry Day or National Reconciliation Week. Magabala Books is a not-for-profit organisation that supports First Nations authors, artists, and illustrators. They are a great place to start for picture books.
Explore symbols seen on National Sorry Day or National Reconciliation Week such as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flag. Talk about what these symbols are and why they are a fundamental part of Australia's identity.
For older students, touch on some of the important events throughout history that impacted Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People (for example the 1967 referendum, Kevin Rudd's apology speech, or the Stolen Generations). Offer students a simple research task where they can discover details about what, when, where, and why these significant events occurred.
As a classroom teacher, you know your students best. Above all, it is important to trust your professional judgment and choose an activity that you feel your students are ready for and can handle.
If you are interested in learning more about respectfully embedding First Nations perspectives into your teaching program, then check out this blog post from Miss Gibbs. She is a wealth of knowledge and a great resource for teachers.
How do you recognise National Sorry Day or National Reconciliation Week in your primary classroom? We would love to hear any ideas you would like to share with our community.
Looking for ready-to-print National Sorry Day or National Reconciliation Week resources? Check out these:
"These are perfect, thank you for creating resources that are inclusive and culturally appropriate. My students loved the activities." Mrs Mac
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