The children played outside for three hours today. THREE GLORIOUS red leaves falling , mailman sighting, breakfast on stumps hours of JOY.
We did take a break and come inside as a group to use the bathroom and get a drink. We also read a book while we waited on friends. While inside I grabbed a magazine article to read. Now hear me out – reading an article with children in care sometimes takes DAYS – I get distracted really easy and my priority while outside is observing and engaging.
The article is from Exchange magazine- is called A world of difference – Helping Children Embrace Differences and Learn Empathy by Donna Housman.
I love the fact that she points out that we assume children can recognize differences from birth- like they can tell the difference between red and blue or big and small. She states that in fact children are not born understanding differences. They are however born with the ability to develop an understanding of differences.
This weekend my one year-old grandson Ronan was here. He was intrigued and a little scared of Delta. He has cats at his house. When Delta would bark he was so surprised. We would look at him and say “Delta is a dog – she barks.” I don’t think he fully understood but we built the foundation for him understanding the difference between a cat and a dog .
It’s usually around four years old that I see children begin to notice differences in skin color or their eyecolor or hair color and the other children in the classroom. Even though we do activities that emphasize this type of learning it’s still not evident. Its like one day they wake up and are like “ooooh my my skin is not the same color as my friends.” That is when the work begins.
I have enjoyed watching and being part of Tatum‘s family this year. He has a mom “Brandie” who gave birth to him. He has a stepmom “Ashley” who fully engages in his life with his dad. Tatum can often be heard saying “ I have two moms.” Their family does this so effortlessly. With their children they built a strong foundation that having two moms is perfectly acceptable. Not only acceptable but amazing! Since Tatum talks about it to his friends I’m sure he has realized that not all children have two moms and at his young age he is teaching diversity and acceptance. Kudos to this family for getting it right and building resilience in this little guy. ❤️
The author goes on to say that babies come into the world with no assumptions. They can’t tell one color from the other, one animal from the other and they only learn these differences through experiences as they grow older. As a caregiver it’s important for me to offer them experiences, read them stories, engage in their play and conversation to make sure that the strong foundation of community and empathy is in place before they leave my care.
Now you might wonder how in the world this whole blog started off with falling red leaves and breakfast on a stump. If children aren’t given the opportunity to explore friendships and conversations and given time to learn through play these experiences or discovery of differences will not come naturally. Most times when they’re not taught in the natural setting or not realized in a natural setting they are taught with a bias in mind. 🤷🏻♀️ I can tell children all day long that just because our skin color is different does not mean anything that we are all humans but when those relationships already built and then that difference emerges it is a no-brainer for the children .
That’s what playing three hours outside will do for you.