Random and Deep
Today is day three without Ms Dallas here. Randy had really hung in there with us. Today during circle time he swept the floor. You probably dont know this .. but that is a minor miracle. 🙂 He helps out a lot but not usually this type of help ! ( He does outside work, cook, washes dishes, which is a LOT more than many men , I am sure ! ) I am thankful he is here and ready to jump in and do what needs to be done. This is a tough week for Ms Dallas to be gone. I am tying up loose ends getting ready for the tour at our house the weekend. This morning after she called in again I was mentally going through the list of things that I needed to do. ( Not a lot, but having a third person here means I can run upstairs to grab something if needed and possibly even run to the store! ) I was getting a little anxious and even thought about finding a Thanksgiving cartoon and ” letting ” the kids watch it. When you hear a provider say ” letting ” usually that means… making… so I have time to do something else. TV in a child care setting is USUALLY used for the purposes of the teacher or provider, not the kiddos. But, as I thought through the day, I realized that it was not necessary . I can still get everything done. I wrote Wednesday – Friday on a piece of paper and took my list of things yet to accomplish and spread them out over the three days. DOABLE! DOABLE without using the electronic babysitter !
We made a book today called ” If I turkey walked into my bedroom gobbling I would…” The kids finished the sentence and we did the traditional traced hand turkey. When I do activities like this I am reminded of the different developmental stages of writing. The boys usually just ” scribble ” all over the turkey ( or other black lined object ) just to get finished and go back to the block center or other more physical center to play. The three year old girls use lots of color but randomly all over the paper. The 4-5 year old girls are more meticulous and often color using a pattern and writing letters or designs around the black lined object. The answers ranged anywhere from play with it ( the turkey ) to cook it and eat it .
During circle time today we read a book called ” Amazing Grace .” The kids said she looked funny. I asked why . They never really could tell me why . I asked ” was it the gap in her teeth ?” I reminded them that we all lose our teeth at some point. We talked about her hair and her skin color. No one could pin point why they laughed each time they saw her picture.
I know in Northwest Arkansas our little friends don’t see a lot of African American children but this little girl is very indicative of the African American girls I grew up with in the Delta. We talk a lot about family and acceptance here. I have multicultural toys and materials all over our classroom. It really bothers me that they laughed. :/ As I typed this I remember the other day some of the girls asked for the babies that I had moved to the loft for the day. I handed them the black baby and they replied ” we want the white baby .” As a teacher in preschool it is my job not only to help them realize the differences and similarities but also to help them realize they are not ” weird ” which is the term they were using. So this is something that we will be working on a little more this year. I guess if they are struggling with their ABC’s before they go to kindergarten I dont get concerned, I know it will come. But racism is real and it hurts and It hurts my heart to know they would laugh at someone because they look different. ( Sounds like I just got challenged as a teacher , huh ? )
I had a couple moms ask today ” are you going outside even when its this frigid?” Yes, we go outside unless there is falling precipitation or a weather warning. It actually wasnt too bad even though it was 34 degrees. The kids LOVED the leaves that were knee deep all over the playground and the new hop scotch stones. They ran and ran and even asked could they take off their coats. No. 🙂
I wanted some research to back up what I was saying about cultural differences so I looked it up. Here is more information on teaching diversity to children if you are interested.
|Activities that Promote Racial and Cultural Awareness
By Barbara Biles, M.Ed.
After a workshop session on cultural awareness, I was asked, “Does this really matter? Will adding skin-tone crayons make a difference in children’s lives?” “Yes,” I said, “skin-tone crayons help a child become aware of who he is and who others are.”
After age 9, racial attitudes tend to stay the same unless the child has a life-changing experience (Aboud, 1988). Before that, however, we have a good chance to help children develop positive feelings about their racial and cultural identity. We can also challenge the immature thinking that is typical of very young children. That’s important because this type of thinking can lead to prejudice (York, 1991).
Children develop their identity and attitudes through experiences with their bodies, social environments, and their cognitive developmental stages (Derman-Sparks, 1989). As these three factors interact, young children progress through certain stages of racial and cultural awareness. In this article, we’ll talk first about the stages of racial awareness. Then we’ll give you some ideas for activities that will help children accept themselves and others.
When does it start?
The foundation of self-awareness is laid when children are infants and toddlers. At these stages, children learn “what is me” and “what is not me.” Toddlers are sensitive to the feelings of the adults around them, and they begin to mimic adult behavior. By age two, children recognize and explore physical differences. They are also learning the names of colors, and they begin to apply this to skin color. Natural curiosity will lead to questions about differences.
THE PRESCHOOL YEARS (age 3 and 4). Children of this age are better at noticing differences among people. They have learned to classify, and they tend to sort based on color and size. They can’t yet deal with multiple classification, so they get confused about the names of racial groups and the actual color of their skin. They wonder why two people with different skin tones are considered part of the same racial group. Many preschool children will comment – in words or through actions – on hair texture, eye shape, and other physical characteristics. They want to know how people got their color, hair texture, and eye shape.
Children at this age believe that because other parts of their body grow and change, skin color and other physical traits could also change. Some young black children prefer white dolls over black dolls (Clark, 1963). More often than white children, they may say that they don’t like their skin color, hair texture, or another physical trait. By age four, children begin to prefer one race.
At this age, children’s thinking is limited, distorted, and inconsistent. For these reasons, it is easy for them to believe stereotypes and form pre-prejudices. In the Anti-Bias Curriculum (1989), Louise Derman-Sparks states, “The goals are to facilitate children’s awareness that their racial identity does not change, to help them understand that they are part of a large group with similar characteristics (not “different” from everyone else) and to foster their desire to be exactly who they are.”
KINDERGARTEN (age 5 and 6). Kindergartners continue to ask questions about physical differences, and they can begin to understand the explanations for these differences. They can now make distinctions between members of the same racial or cultural group. At this age, children are developing social skills and becoming more group-oriented. They enjoy exploring the culture of their friends. By age six, most children understand the concept of fair and unfair, and they often use these concepts as they try to deal with issues.
THE EARLY PRIMARY YEARS (age 7 and 8). At this age, children acquire racial constancy. They now understand that a person’s skin color will not wash off or change but will remain the same as she grows up. At this age, children can also consider multiple attributes at one time. They can now understand how one person can be a member of several different groups. For example, a person can be part of a family, a classroom, a culture, and a race.
Children can also understand feelings of shame and pride at this age, and they are aware of racism against their own group. They are able to empathize, and they are interested in learning about the world. It’s the perfect time for giving them accurate information so they grow out of “preschool” ways of thinking (York, 1991).
Now that you understand how children develop their racial and cultural awareness and identities, it’s time to encourage them to accept and celebrate their differences. We want to help all children develop a positive self-concept and feel proud of who they are – although we don’t want them to feel better than other groups, either! If this positive sense of self and others is allowed to flourish, today’s children will become adults who accept and affirm differences, identify unfair situations, and strive to eliminate racism of any sort. A first step in helping children feel positive about racial and cultural identity is reflecting diversity in their surroundings. Children notice when the only dolls there are to play with don’t look anything like them. Books and toys that reflect racial and cultural diversity serve two purposes. They not only help children of color feel good about themselves, they help all children feel positive about differences.