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Diversity in the PreSchool Classroom

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Dear Peacock Community:

Greetings! As the classrooms at Peacock are alive and well celebrating autumn, anticipating Halloween, and welcoming diversity of all forms in our classrooms, I am reminded of how vital all these things are to our center, to a young child’s life, to our Peacock community and beyond. On a recent trip to the San Francisco Bay Area, where I am from, I happily immersed myself in the diversity that I am so familiar and comfortable with. Up here on Bainbridge Island, while diversity is not as visibly prevalent, it has of course the same vital impact on our community. We as a people thrive with differences, celebrating our uniqueness, no matter what it may be. It is a blessing to be surrounded by differences of all kinds, and more and more communities are finally acknowledging the importance of acceptance and inclusion, as we transform our communities into places where belongingness is paramount. As I spoke of in a previous newsletter, so much research has shown us how this concept of belongingness lays the foundation for positive learning experiences and with that, a healthy sense of self esteem. The National Association of Education for Young Children (NAEYC) has made several important statements over the years advocating for linguistic and cultural diversity in all Early Childhood Programs. In one of their position statements, they wrote: ” Early Childhood programs are responsible for creating a welcoming environment that respects diversity, supports children’s ties to their families and community, and promotes both second language acquisition and preservation of children’s home languages and cultural identities. Linguistic and cultural diversity is an asset, not a deficit, for young children.”

Volumes have been written on diversity in early childhood classrooms. Whether we find ourselves in Seattle, or Boston, or San Francisco or New York City or Bainbridge Island, it is essential that educators teach from an anti-bias curriculum, IE a curriculum that represents a non-judgmental approach to diversity of all kinds. Just before writing this piece, I went through the libraries in the preschool classrooms and I found the following books: Round as a Mooncake: A Book of Shapes. Moonstick: The Seasons of the Sioux. Shades of People. All the Colors of the Earth. These are just a few titles of many that Peacock has on its shelves, books that represent the many shades of people, and colors of the earth that we see all around us.The teachers at Peacock are very committed to teaching from an anti-bias curriculum, as we, every day, celebrate diversity in all forms.

So, let me tell you of the comings and goings in all our classrooms this week:

In our Infant Room I find it hard not to laugh every time I am in there, watching the babies negotiate their world, and how their faces light up so instantly for the simplest things. Of course their tears can be as intense as their smiles, a baby’s life so intrinsically connected to that very primal place of feelings. Without words, a baby has such strong communication cues that are so much a part of the human vocabulary. They are orators as well as comedians as well as these little beings that just want to be held so much of the time…

The Toddlers this week have been joyously finger painting and painting with water colors and sponges. For a fabulous sensory experience, the have been digging into the biggest pumpkin I have seen in long time. The gooey mess is perfect for them and the teachers have enjoyed watching their reactions as much as the children have enjoyed the experience of a pumpkin. The teachers put together in the toddler classroom a new climbing structure that, when turned over, becomes a rocking boat. What fun this has been to discover and play on and around!

In the Green Room the children have enjoyed dancing every day, often dances of their own creation, and then on “Toe Tapping Tuesday” they learned country dances, line dances, and they got to dance like horses, galloping to some wonderful music. Walking Wednesday took them to Waterfront Park, where their naturally friendly personalities greeted the passersby. Back at school, the Green group has been working on patience skills, waiting for everyone to be served, for example, at lunch time. At circle time, more and more sign language has been taught, and the children are retaining these lessons and remembering amazingly. On the walls in the Green room, you will notice orange spiders and white ghosts that the children made with hand printing. For our weekly cooking project, banana roll ups were made with tortillas that the children quickly noticed were circles. The children are creating and painting fall trees and watching outside all the leaves turning beautiful, vibrant colors.

In the Blue Room the children have been happily ensconced in many autumn related activities. On the wall in the hallway, you will see their version of “Five little pumpkins sitting on the gate…” As you read the poem/song, notice how the children got all the details in their artwork. In class, the teachers took this poem one step further, and they talked about fear that can be related to Halloween and how to deal with costumes and Halloween symbols that might provoke fear, and that one doesn’t have to be afraid when we all realize it’s just a costume or a mask. Another interesting discussion that emanated from the Blue room centered around fall leaves and why they do fall and where will they go, and what will happen to the tree after the leaves have left. I love how children this age are so ripe for these deeper discussions in life, for these scientific explanations of natural phenomena. The Blue group has been talking about giving to others, generosity and inclusion, and part of this discussion is the creation of donation boxes for helpline house. As you walk in, please notice the careful crafting of these boxes, pictures that were cut out by the children as they conceptualized what might go in them, and we give to others, because that is what we do. So, please, if you wish, give generously. The children love watching the canned food grow in their home-made boxes. For cooking this week, the children made pumpkin pudding, and while they were cooking, they counted every measurement carefully, counting being an important part of each day in the Blue Room. C continues to be a focus letter and the children took a “C walk” noticing everything on their walk that begins with the letter C. The children are also matching and counting objects and sets, using mathematical skills in everyday tasks.

So, that is Peacock in a week.

So, everyone, have wonderful weekends!!

with kindest and warmest regards,

Heidi

 

 

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