Post submitted by Kimmie Fink, Welcoming Schools Consultant
Friday, April 21, marks National Kindergarten Day. Although the day recognizes Johann Friedrich Oberlin, the founder of kindergarten, it also honors our youngest explorers, scientists, artists and curious learners. As we celebrate kindergarteners today, we’d like to take the opportunity to share some ideas for teachers in engaging young children in conversations about diversity with Welcoming Schools books and lessons.
The lesson “Words That Hurt, Words That Heal” helps youngsters see themselves as allies in a caring community. Using the book One, the teacher facilitates a discussion about the importance of words and actions. Budding readers can role play as hothead color red, quiet color blue, and upstanders yellow, orange, green and purple.
“A Welcoming Classroom” is a lesson designed to look at what makes students feel welcome or not, an ideal activity for kindergarteners who are new to school themselves. After reading the book The New Girl…And Me, students respond to the prompts “I feel unwelcome when…” and “I feel welcome when,” and the teacher records their answers on chart paper.
For a simple activity to address gender stereotypes with young ones, try “We Are All Human Beings.” It’s important for children to identify all the things we have in common rather than the things that separate us. The book Whoever You Are serves as a springboard for student ideas about commonalities. Each child then has the opportunity to illustrate one of these human truths.
These are just a few examples of the many lessons and books at your disposal as a teacher of young students. Don’t underestimate the value of conversations about diversity at an early age. After all, everything we need to know, we really do learn in kindergarten.
HRC’s Welcoming Schools is the nation’s premier program dedicated to creating respectful and supportive elementary schools in embracing family diversity, creating LGBTQ-inclusive schools, preventing bias-based bullying, creating gender-expansive schools, and supporting transgender and non-binary students.