Everybody’s family has a different make up. It can be defined as two or more people who share a biological or emotional bond. In order to help young children understand about family, a teacher needs to have some background knowledge of the families in their care. Try to involve your parents, ask them questions and get to know them as best you can. Once you understand what makes your families unique, you can use this information as a to catalyst to begin conversations with the children. It can help you to understand and respect the values and culture that the family brings into your classroom.
IDEAS TO REINFORCE FAMILY
- Hang pictures in your room that show many different family makeups.
- Ask the families to share pictures of their home life.
- Have the children draw pictures of their family.
- Make a graph of how many people are in your family?
- Use marks of various colors to represent the people (red for mothers, green for fathers, yellow for brothers, white for sisters, etc.) Then use this information to talk about how the children’s families are alike and different.
- Invite family members into your classroom to share something special about their family. (Neal’s family likes to cook and shares a special food; Kylee’s mother plays an instrument and joins a circle time; Layla’s grandmother knits blankets and comes to demonstrate what knitting looks like; Nigel’s big brother plays soccer and comes during outdoor time to show the children his moves).
- Send home 6”x 6” pieces of blank white paper for families to decorate and return back to school. Hang these on the wall like a quilt.
- If you have children whose home language is different then that spoken at school, learn some basic words in the home language and incorporate them into your classroom.
- Read books and sing songs in the child’s home language.
A community is a group of people living or working together in the same area. Each of us comes from a different community and geography. Some of us live and teach in urban environments, others suburban or rural. It is our responsibility as an Early Childhood Educator to tap into the world of the children in our care. This starts with family and then moves out to neighborhoods. Talk about the people in the community who help you. (Doctors, firepersons, healthcare workers, food distributors and makers, etc.) Dramatic play is a wonderful place for children to act out their knowledge of people in your community.
IDEAS TO REINFORCE COMMUNITY
- After reading and discussing a person in the community, have the children write a letter thanking them for their contributions.
- Ask a community representative to visit your school and share what they do with the children.
- Take pictures of local stores or places and make a match game out of them.
- Make a map of your school.
- Get a local real estate map and chart where each child lives.
- Sing the chorus of Who Are The People In Your Neighborhood (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_yohVlVbEA) show a picture of a community helper and let the children respond with what they know.
Geography is the study of the landscape that your community is on. Some of us live in the mountains, flat open land, or beachside. Each type of landscape brings with it special nature features. Teach the children the names of the different kinds of animals that may live in your area as well as the trees and flowers. Virtual field trips are one way to help children learn about their environment and later about others. Always start local and then if there is interest move out into different landscapes. Think about places that your children would be interested in visiting and look it up! Kidvision prek and Blippi have lots of interesting field trips for young children. Here are just a few.