Creating Affirming Environments

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In opening my own Family Child Care Home, I would want the center to evoke a “homey,” comfortable feel, similar to Adriana Castillo’s center (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011). I would fill the space with soft, calming colors and would want different areas designated around the center to parallel areas in Castillo’s child care home, such as a welcome or greeting area, living room, calming room (“nap room”), and dramatic play area (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011). I envision having a library or reading nook area with a basket of persona dolls to help infuse anti-bias education into reading and discussions (Derman-Sparks and Edwards, 2010). This is an area I would like to incorporate a multitude of books emphasizing various cultures and ethnicities and that emphasize anti-bias perspectives (Derman-Sparks and Edwards, 2010). In the dramatic play area, I would want to include dress-up clothes reflective of the children’s ethnicities as well as a play kitchen with utensils, containers, and food indicative of children’s cultures and home life.

I love Castillo’s idea of having a note section in which parents can record how their child is doing, any major changes they are experiencing, how they slept the night prior, and anything else the parent feels comfortable sharing in order to better meet the child’s needs for that particular day or week (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011). In the living room area, I envision photographs of the children’s families, framed with colorful child-created frames. I would love this to be an area with soft pillows and blankets with baskets of books and toys, similar to many children’s living rooms at their homes. I think this would help cultivate a sense of safety and welcoming atmosphere. In the calm room or area, I would play soft instrumental music from various cultures in order to help soothe children who are distressed or trying to rest. Similar to my current classroom, I would want this kind of music playing upon the children entering the center, to help cultivate a soothing atmosphere.

To ensure that every child and family feels welcomed and accepted, I would want to meet with them regularly in order to facilitate conversations in which parents are able to communicate their goals for their children and provide insight into how child care workers can provide optimal support for their children. I would also like to provide opportunities in which families can visit the center and bring elements from their family culture to share with the children at the center.

References

Derman-Sparks, L., & Edwards, J. (2010). Anti-bias education for young children and ourselves. Washington, DC: NAEYC.

Laureate Education, Inc. (2011). Welcome to an anti-bias learning community. [DVD]. Strategies for working with diverse children. Baltimore, MD: Author

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What I Have Learned

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My hope for the children and families from diverse backgrounds I work with is that they would always find a supportive, welcoming community at my school and in my classroom. I hope that these children and families would always find an advocate in me that they can turn to for help, support, and encouragement throughout their journeys.

My goal for the early childhood field in regards to issues of diversity, equity, and social justice is that professional development would be infused into regular staff training. It is necessary that not only classroom teachers, but paraprofessionals, aides, transportation staff, cafeteria staff, lunch staff, cleaning staff, and administration be properly trained and equipped with the knowledge of anti-bias education in order to better reach our students and families on a daily basis.

I want to thank each of my colleagues that I have worked alongside of throughout this course. Your transparency and encouragement have greatly aided in my journey of self-reflection and learning. Best regards to each of you in your careers; you are truly making a difference in the lives of children.

Creating Art

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Developing anti-bias frameworks

Identities accepted and valued

Variety encouraged

Exquisite mixture

Racial harmony

Supportive systems and society

Individual respected

Trauma, tragedy, and turmoil advocated

Young, old, weak, and strong united.

Start Seeing Diversity Blog: “We Don’t Say Those Words in Class!”

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Recently, I was at the grocery store and noticed an Asian family speaking to one another in a different language. Shortly after noticing this family, I saw a young white mother pass this family as her small child pointed, made a face, and exclaimed, “Why are they talking so funny?” The mother was profusely embarrassed and apologized to the family as she scowled at her son, swatted his hand, and told him how rude he was being.

While I’m sure the mother was embarrassed and reacted based on feeling badly for her son having caused any awkward feelings amongst the Asian family, she quickly negated any feelings her son had and put a hasty end to investigating these feelings further. In doing so, she reprimanded him from noticing and responding to diversity, rather than giving him a different way to communicate his observations and guiding this thought process.

An anti-bias educator may have responded differently to this child by asking questions like, “What makes you think they are talking funny?” “Have you ever heard people speaking different languages than the language you speak?” “Would you like to learn a different language?” Questions like these have the potential to turn this child’s response into a positive, productive conversation regarding diversity and equity. “What children ask, say, or do about any aspect of their own or others’ identities and differences are the wonderful “teachable moments” of anti-bias education” (Derman-Sparks and Olsen Edwards, 2010, p. 32).

Reference

Derman-Sparks, L., & Edwards, J. O. (2010). Anti-bias education for young children and ourselves. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children

Start Seeing Diversity Video

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I have heard children use the term “gay” before. One particularly recent occurrence took place this school year when one of my students used this name to refer to a peer who had angered him. This particular child has a multitude of anger issues and often is very reactive to name-call amongst his peers. In this instance, I comforted the child who was emotionally distraught over being yelled at and called this, then proceeded to have a conversation with the other little boy. I asked him if he knew what “gay” meant or where he had heard it used before. The little boy admitted he did not know what the word meant and had heard it used in a derogatory fashion amongst members of his family. Comments such as these have carried such negative connotations for such a long time that they can be emotionally damaging to children’s self-esteem, especially when children are using words like this without any sort of frame of reference as to what they are saying. These comments made out of context will also continue to misrepresent words such as “gay” and send mixed messages regarding children’s identity (Derman-Sparks and Edwards, 2010).

One of my major concerns in terms of sexual orientation stems from the fact that as a Christian, I do not believe that homosexuality is right. While I know this is often not a popular view and is looked upon as intolerant, I am a firm believer in the old adage: “love the sinner, hate the sin.” While I am nowhere near intolerant of people living homosexual lives, it is not something I feel comfortable promoting within my Kindergarten classroom. I do however, believe in loving every child entrusted to my care and establishing strong partnerships with their parents regardless of their race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or anything else.

Reference

Derman-Sparks and Edwards Derman-Sparks, L., & Olsen Edwards, J. (2010). Anti-bias education for young children and ourselves. Washington, DC: NAEYC.

Professional Hopes and Goals

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One hope I have in regards to working with children and families who come from diverse backgrounds is that I would be able to make them feel valued and respected and that they would know that I have their child’s best interests at heart.

A goal I have is to work with families from their initial enrollment in learning more about their culture and diversity in order to better cultivate partnerships with them.

Lastly, I would like to thank Dr. Davis and the colleagues I interacted with throughout this class. I appreciate your feedback, transparency, and honesty. I have learned from all of you and hope to take what I have learned into my classroom and interactions with children and families. Thank you!

Welcoming Families From Around the World

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The country I chose for this assignment is Russia. In order to prepare myself to be culturally responsive to a family with this country of origin, I would do the following things:

  1. Ask the child to bring in pictures of his/her family and create a “My Family” book for the student to share with the class and have easy access to each day in order to feel more secure and comfortable in the classroom.
  2. Based on the fact that families are large and the family structure is so important to Russians, invite the whole family into the classroom for a “meet and greet” session.
  3. To better understand the family’s home life and structure, I would give the child an opportunity to draw their family and who lives in their home and then share this drawing with their class.
  4. Because grandmothers are often a lifeline of support to Russian families, I would want to incorporate and introduce this person to the classroom and create opportunities for her to volunteer in the classroom or come to a grandparent’s day.
  5. To give his/her classmates more of an opportunity to learn about Russian food, language, and other elements, I would create a share time in which students could bring in elements reflecting their cultural backgrounds.

I think these preparations would be beneficial to both myself and the family because it would advocate for the child and family in transitioning to a new culture. It would help in fostering a safe place for the child and would help in cultivating a relationship with the student and partnership with the parents.

Reference

(n.d.). In MasterRussian.com. Retrieved February 21, 2015, from http://masterrussian.com/russianculture/russian_family.htm