NAEYC 2011 CEASE Workshop Recommendations
2:30 – 4:00 How can preschools help before bullying begins toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender children? A teacher’s role in empowering adults and children to change the future.
2:30 – 4:00 How technology is changing childhood and what you can do about it.
2:30 – 4:00 Spirituality in young children: What's innate, how it grows, what we can do about it as a human condition.
1:00 – 2:00 Featured Speaker, Diane Levin.
Creating a Welcoming Environment for all Children and Families
We may very well spend hours designing our educational setting and yet fail to create a welcoming environment for a specific family that walks through the door. I remember feeling satisfied with my efforts to create a close-to-perfect learning environment thirty years ago. When I looked around the rooms I saw a play kitchen area nicely linked to a loft; blocks conveniently placed on the rug area; shelves of puzzles, manipulatives and art supplies easily accessible to small children; the library and board games nestled in a quiet room. What I didn’t realize was that I had set up an aesthetically pleasing and developmentally appropriate learning environment – but was missing a visual sense of welcome. How was I making children and families feel welcome? Slowly but surely I learned to honor the children and families who attended the program. My initial action was to create a “family collage” as the first thing one would see when entering the room. The collage included photos of immediate family members, pets, and extended or favored family friends. Next, the children created “family books” where they shared their traditions and family stories. Eventually I thought about welcoming children and families who just might walk through the door. Thinking, “What would families from different racial or ethnic identity groups feel if they walked into this room? What would a gay or lesbian couple feel…a single parent….a parent or child with a disability…..a child that doesn’t conform to gender stereotypes?” I evaluated the messages inadvertently given by the toys and materials in the classroom. I embarked on an extended quest to find books, pictures, puzzles, and toys that would make any family or child feel welcome. If I couldn’t find material, I created it. I remember the first concrete evidence that I was on the right track when a Guatemalan child discovered one of my hand-made cloth dolls and shyly exclaimed, “She looks like me!” By Sharon Davisson
Resources for creating a just, equitable and welcoming classroom: Anti-Bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves (2010) by Louise Derman-Sparks & Julie Olson-Edwards. NAEYC.
CEASE website www.peaceeducators.org