Week 5

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Describe in detail the consequences you might expect for the children and families with whom you work while you experience specific “–ism(s)” in your own life. Include specific examples either those you have and/or are experiencing or ones you would anticipate.

I think there are of a number of ways that -isms I might be dealing with could affect the children and families I work with. Let’s take racism for example. If I were being discriminated against based on my culture or race this could easily cause me to be stand-offish to people who are not like me or of the same race/culture that are discriminating against me. I am Caucasian so lets say that in my personal life I were being discriminated against by someone who was African American… I imagine that this could cause some animosity between myself and other African American people I may come in contact with. This could mean the families of the children I teach or even coworkers. My actions and feelings towards others might be more obvious to the children I teach than I might think causing them to feel that I have animosity towards them. As children pick up on both covert and overt messages, this could affect my relationships with children and their families. Prejudice and discrimination affect children’s development at an early age. As children pay close attention to the to how the important people in their lives feel about human differences and similarities, the notice subtle cues and draw conclusions about issues and formulate ideas after picking up on emotional tension from adults (Sparks & Edwards, 2010).

Sparks, L & Edwards, J. (2010). Anti-Bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves. National Association for the Education of Young Children. United States of America.

Communicating with Children

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Provide an account of your observation:
I was at my sons soccer game watching another parent interact with their child. The little girl wanted to go out into where the kids were playing soccer, wanted to play with the extra soccer balls, and wanted to keep leaving the room to get a drink from the water fountain.

Describe what you noticed and learned:
The little girls mom just kept telling her no. Then the little girl wanted to do those things even more. She would run out into the middle of the soccer game and mom had to go after her. Dad just stood there and watched mom do everything. Mom didn’t have anything for her to play with or to keep her busy but wanted her to sit on the ground with her. Mom had finally had her fill and told the girl that if she didn’t stop being bad she would be in trouble.

Make connections between what you observed and the effective communication strategies presented in this week’s learning resources. What could have been done to make the communication more affirming and effective:
In the video, the teacher interacted with the little girls in the video by speaking to them and asking them questions. She engaged them in conversation and let them experience their ideas. Children need to feel that and to be able to bring they are into the place they are. The mother of this little girl could have done the same thing. Engaging the little girl in a conversation about play or an imaginative scenario could have kept her busy and encouraged her to stay in one spot.

Share your thoughts with regard to how the communication interactions you observed may have affected the child’s feelings and/or any influences it may have had on the child’s sense of self worth:
The lack of positive communication may have affected the child’s feelings in a number of ways. The little girl was only trying to explore her surroundings and be a part of the game her big brother was playing. Her mother may have made her feel bad about herself by calling her “bad” and telling her “no” over and over again. Dad could have interacted with her as well. He could have attempted to start a conversation wit her and play with her.

Offer insights on how the adult-child communication you observed this week compares to the ways in which you communicate with the children. What have you learned about yourself this week with respect to how well you talk with and listen to young children? In what ways could you improve:
When I communicate with children, especially my own child, I talk to them. I explain why not rather than simply saying no. I encourage them to use their imagination and I play along. I think that listening is an area where I can improve. Typically in my own classroom, I have patience but there are times when it gets the best of me and I blow off certain things that children say. When you hear, “He took my pencil!!” or “I was sitting there first!” for the 300th time in one day it tends to make you more frustrated rather than patient. I realize how important it is to always have open and positive lines of communication with children and holding onto my patience is something that I know I need to work more on.

The setting of my Family Child Care

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An anti-bias environment invites exploration and discovery, and supports children’s play and conversations in both emergent and planned activities. A culturally consistent environment is important for children and their families and therefore the look and sounds of the environment should reflect the families cultures and daily lives. In my family child care home I would begin with posters and pictures that include the cultures, genders, and races of the children and families but also those that are not a part of the program. Books in the “library” that represent the cultures and daily life of the families are another way to supports the cultures of children and families. This includes cultures, race, age, family structures, economic groups, holidays that are celebrated by my families, and gender. I would love to create a template for a “Book about me” for each family to put together including pictures, that can then be used in the library for each child in the program to enjoy and learn from. There are a number of photo shops that can turn photos into puzzles. I would, with families permission, have puzzles made that the children can play with. It is important to talk to families about what games and sports their child enjoys and to have games and toys for them to play with that reflect their interests.

I love the idea of hanging pictures of the things that we are doing each day for families to enjoy when they pick their child up. This is a way to involves the families in what we are doing all day. I would also include pictures of the children playing and learning all around the room. Ideally, I would like to two have separate areas for the children. One room that would be the quiet room. This is where the children would nap and also place for them to cool down if they are upset. The main room for the center will be set up in an open environment. the carpet that we sit on for circle time in the middle of the room, surrounded by the toys, tables, games, comfortable couches, and snack tables. Everything is together because I like the idea of children still feeling like they are together even though they may be in different sections of the room playing with different things. They can all still see each other. There will be a section that would have the toys for the younger children and the toys for the older children would be separate but still in the same large room to encourage the togetherness.

Final Post- Class #8

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One hope that I have as I think about families and children who come from diverse backgrounds is that at some point there will hopefully come a time when courses in diversity will not be necessary. I hope that one day, people from all walks of life, all colors, and all sexual orientations feel like they belong. It seems to be a long time away but it is my hope that at some point this is where we end up.

The goal I would like to set for the field of early childhood in terms of diversity, equity, and social justice is that all early childhood educators are educated on what it means to have an anti-bias classroom. This should be something that is a part of all early childhood training and education. Not something learned or a course/program taken by choice. What I have learned through this program would benefit all educators- not just those in the early childhood field.

I would like to thank all of my colleagues for their insight, opinions, and support. It has been wonderful getting to know all of you and connecting through our blogs and discussions. I wish you all the best! Hope to “see” you all in our next class.

“We don’t say those words in class!”

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By Saturday of this week, Post the following on your Blog:

•A time when you witnessed an adult (or yourself) reprimand or silence a child after he or she pointed out someone they saw as different (e.g., “That lady talks funny,” ” That man only has one leg!” “Why is that man so pretty!”). Include what the child said and what the adult did or said in response. (Note: If you cannot think of a specific time ask a friend or family member.)
•What messages might have been communicated to this child by the adult’s response
•An example of how an anti-bias educator might have responded to support the child’s (or classroom’s ) understanding

I can think of a time when I silenced my own child when he pointed out someone that they saw as different. I always talk to my son about how everyone has differences and he seems to understand what I teach him. He has asked me what the picture on handicapped parking spaces means and always has lots of questions. But he is only 4 years old and I imagine that talking about people is completely different than seeing people. We were in a restaurant a few weeks ago and there was a guy in a wheel chair at the table next to us. My son did not see him until we got up to leave and he turned around, saw him, and very loudly started to say, “Mommy, look! That guy is in a wheelchair like the ones on the signs!” I quickly silenced him and walked him away from the table. I explained to him that it’s okay if he sees someone in a wheelchair but he shouldn’t point it out because sometimes it makes people sad that they are in wheelchairs.” His response was, “yeah. I might be sad if my legs didn’t work very well.” And I said, “Yeah. You don’t want to make him sad. So next time just wave hi because he is just the same as you accept that he’s in a wheelchair.” My sons response was, “yeah he is.” I found this the best way to help him understand why he shouldn’t point it out.

When Cole first asked me why people have to sit in wheelchairs I told him that sometimes people’s legs don’t work the same as his do so they need a wheelchair to help them get around. Despite knowing that he was only pointing out that he saw something he recognized and there was no mean or malicious intent behind it, I don’t want others to feel uncomfortable because he is pointing out their disability. My silencing him could have communicated to him that he was doing something wrong. But I hope that my explanation after pulling him away helped him to understand why I silenced him to begin with.

To be honest, I think that what I did was the right thing. I am a teacher mom. I explain a lot and therefore my child has understanding or knowledge of things that a lot of parents I know don’t take the time to explain. I think that explaining gives children a better understanding of why not to do or say certain things and why other things are important. In the four years I have been a mother, I have never once said, “Because I said so” and that is something I am very proud of.

Gender and Sexual Orientation

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I believe that despite the changing world and how frustrating it is that people can not be accepting of homosexuality, it is not my place to push acceptance on others. While I believe that early childhood centers should NOT avoid the inclusion of books depicting gay or lesbian individuals such as same-sex partnered families, I also believe that if a family whose child is in the centers care does not want those books available to their children, it is my job to honor the wishes of those families. Families may have their own reasons for keeping such books away from their children and it is not always that they are unwilling to accept it. In these instances I do not believe that I should question or dishonor the requests of the child’s parents. I would simply respond to parents by telling them that at our center we are open to all walks of life and family units, therefore I will not remove the books from the center but that I will not make them available to their child to honor their wishes.

My personal experience with homophobic terms involves my father and my son. My father seems to think that gelling my sons hair into a little faux-hawk or dressing him in nice clothes makes him a sissy. He will make comments at him such as “why does your mother do that you your hair?” and “you should just be wearing t-shirts and jeans!” My son didn’t like his hands to be dirty when he was little. My father would say, “Be a boy and wipe the dirt on your jeans!” when my son would ask for his hands to be wiped off. I recall one day when he was tossing a ball to Cole outside at my sister’s house, although “tossing” probably is not the correct word. He was actually throwing it too hard to a two year old. Cole got hit with the ball and started to cry. My dad told him to “stop being a sissy”. I directly related these comments to my fathers homophobia (I hate that word! No one is scared of gay people!). Although I don’t recall ever actually hearing this myself out of my father’s mouth, his actions are clearly shouting that he is “afraid I’m turning my son gay” by encouraging him to wipe his hands on a towel instead of his clothes, by dressing him in cute clothes, and putting a tie on him at holidays (Yes, he comments on those too!). This influences my child as it started at age 2. He is now 4 and I am very lucky that my responses to my father when he would make comments like this echoed the way I wanted to my son. Instead of internalizing his grandfather’s criticisms as something being wrong with him, he tells me that “Grandpa is grumpy” and views it as exactly what it is- his grandfathers issues.

How would I respond to a parent/family member who informed me they did not want anyone who is perceived (or self-reported) homosexual or transgender to be caring for, educating, and/or interacting with their child? To be honest, I think the only thing that I could say would be again that I respect their wishes and objections but that at my center I treat all employees with equality and that if they objected to the personal life of any of my employees it would be them who would need to find a new center for their child to attend. I would not make adjustments at the expense of my employees and their personal lives.