Life In Kenya

This week I choose Kenya as a place to discover.  While I have never been to Kenya, I often think that I would love to do missionary work someday, and I know that some of the outreach in my church is in Kenya. 

As I was exploring the UNICEF site to understand what life is like for a child in Kenya, first, I found out that there is a high rate of infant mortality, this is due to lack of a health system, extreme poverty, AIDS and malaria.  As many as 96 children may die any given day in Kenya.  This is so sad.  Many children are also become orphans because their parent die from HIV/AIDS.  Many children live in orphanages, live in the streets, or even become the heads of their own households at an early age to take care of younger siblings. 

UNICEF is working hard to ensure that all children’s rights are protected.

As I was reading the information about Kenya what hurt my heart is the unfortunate conditions that these children are living in.  And that many children in our own country could be facing some of these hardships as well.  I find it hard to think of children not having access to things like health care, school, and even clean water and food to drink.  I can only imagine the stress that this would have on a child’s emotional wellbeing or their development.

I feel that children living in these harsh conditions would feel that they are in constant stress.  Along with the fact that many do not have the nutrition that they need, their physical development may not be like a typical child.  Many issues like; stress, lack of health care, lack of food, disease, and poverty, would all contribute to negative growth and development.  I also believe that these children would have compromised social/emotional development, and would perhaps live in a state of flight or fight for most of their life’s. 

So, what does this mean for me as a professional?  I feel that what I have learned is the issues that are effecting the children in other parts of the world are also effecting children in our own backyard.  We need to remember that there are many influences that can either support or have negative consequences for children and their overall wellbeing.  We need to think about every aspect of a child’s life to understand what influences are present, so we can help them where they are at.  I also feel that I have learned that we need to remember to advocate for all children, not just the ones in our own care. 

 

UNICEF: https://www.unicef.org/kenya/health_4136.html

To Sexy ??

Today I was sitting with a friend and thinking about what I was going to write in my blog post.  I shared with him what the article was about and he told me that he sees this everyday with his son who is in high school.  He told me that his son gets notes from girls asking to be his girlfriend and he even said that one offered to have sex with his son if he would.  THIS IS NOT OKAY!!

Yesterday I was talking to an aid who comes into the center I work at, she works with a little boy who has autism.  During the school year she is a social worker in the school, she told me that a thirteen-year-old girl came into her office and was worried that she may be pregnant.  HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN.

I believe that the media has a lot to do with this and today many young girls feel that they need to look a certain way, act a certain way, or have certain things to feel loved and liked.  And honestly, the boys are just learning to treat girls with disrespect, and look at them as objects.  THIS MUST STOP!

What I really thought about was the ageism, and how I feel that this is an aspect of that very -ism, that has taken over how people feel about themselves in our society.  On one side, our society says when we get older, we need to fight it and be young.  Then when we are young, we are told to be older, more mature.  But what hurts even more is that children are being forced into adulthood without being able to be children, innocence has been lost.  As a result, I think that girls often think less of themselves, and boys no longer know how to resect girls.  The question I have is what will our society look like if this does not stop? 

Classism in the Early Childhood Field

 

As an early childhood professional, I believe that classism is something that I have faced in my profession as well as my life.  For most of my career in this field, I have had a lack of insurance coverage, low wages, and many times felt that people did not understand the importance of the role I have in the life of children that I work with.  As a matter of fact, more than once I have been referred to as a babysitter.  And honestly, most families do not realize that I am educated and am working towards my Master’s degree. 

How does this effect the work that I do with children? I feel that I have come to accept the fact that I may never be paid wages that reflect my education, I love the work that I do and I feel that I do the best I can ever day in making connections and building relationships with the children and families that I work with. But it is also hard due to high staff turnover, because as a teacher I am always working with new people, and the children also have to re-adjust to new teachers. 

I feel fortunate that most of the families I work with now do apricate the work that I do with their children. They understand that I am more of a baby sitter, but this has also been made possible because of parent education as well as a level of professionalism that I try to show parents.  I feel that the issue of classism in the early childhood field is connected to many of the issues within our field.  Advocacy and parent information do help, but I would love to see where early childhood professionals are treated like teachers who work in 4-12 public school programs.

Observing Communication

During the day, I feel that I have conversations with children most of the day (except for nap time).  We talk about what they did the night before, what we are doing today, why they feel sad, or even what we are having for lunch.  Working with toddlers, I feel like I am a non-stop talking machine, why seems to be a favorite question.  This week I was able to sit back little and observe some other conversations that were happening around me, this is something that I usually do not get a chance to do because I am so busy talking. 

My favorite conversation this week was between a teacher and a little boy while he was sitting on the potty.  This little boy has just turned two, and he is one that spends most of his day asking why.  As he was sitting on the potty, he pointed to a picture if a xylophone that was on the wall.  And then he said “broken”.  She said “no not broken, that is a xylophone, it’s an instrument, would you like to play one?  He then nodded his head yes.  Then he pointed to the guitar, and she asked, “do you know how to play the guitar” (as she pretended to strum) and he said “no”.  Then he pointed again and said, “Ms. L?” She smiled and said, “no I don’t play the guitar”.  He then said, “Ms. K?” and she shrugged her shoulders and said, “we will have to ask her if she knows how to play”.  Once again, he pointed to the xylophone and said broken?”, the teacher smiled and said, “no not broken, let’s go find one for you to play”.  He then got up, she put on his diaper, the went to the room and she got out a few xylophones. 

What I loved most about this conversation is how responsive the teacher was to the little boy.  She engaged in a conversation with him, she was down on his level, and then she expanded on their conversation when she went back to the room and got out some xylophones.  Many times, I feel that we miss out on opportunities to connect with children because we are so focused on the task.  If the teacher had been rushing him, she would have missed the whole conversation, but she just stayed relaxed, and enjoyed their conversation with a smile on her face.  In this situation, I feel that the teacher did an awesome job!  I would not have changed anything about their communication.    I feel that the child got the sense that he mattered and what he was interested in mattered.  She was paying attention to him and he was enjoying their time.  If I were this child I would feel valued, loved and respected. 

What have I learned this week?  I have learned that sometimes I just need to slow down, relax and listen to hat children are saying.   I feel that overall I do a good job communicating with children, I feel that I respond t them with interest and that I am always on their level.  IF there is one thing that I could improve on is slowing down and just taking time to listen and watch more. 

Affirming Environments

When I think about an anti-bias environment I feel that it is not only what can be seen, but what can be heard as well.

If a parent walks into my room, I would first off all want them to feel welcome, as well as communicate with me any information that they feel is necessary.

parent board

Parent boards are an awesome way to share what is going on in the classroom as well as the center.

daily sheet

Daily sheets are a wonderful tool for communication to and from school.  I use these on a daily basis.

family pic

Family pictures also make families feel like they are a part of the school family.

As we know children should be able to see themselves within the environment in which they play.  They should also see people who are in the community as well as in the world.  To accomplish this I would use may tools:

Books:

anti bias        anti bias 3    anti bias 2

Dolls:

babies  dolls

Art supplies:

paper  markers

I would also have photographs of people who represent some of the -ism’s that are currently in our society today (ableism, sexism, etc.,..)

But I also believe that many things like good communication as well as responding to social/emotional development in appropriate ways are also part of an anti-bias classroom.

Quite areas are important

quiet area

as well as books about emotions, emotion posters, and tools to help children learn how to manage their emotions.  I use conscious discipline as well as CSEFEL’s.

 

These are just a few items that I would have in my environment, and I actually do in my room at work.  I work at a NAEYC accredited center and we rate a 5.  Many of the standards that have been set by NAEYC do adhere to the goals of ant-bias education.  I think that anti-bias is not just an ongoing process for a teacher, but for the environment as well.  As you group of children change, the items you have in your room may change as well.

Here are some great social/emotional development resources:

Conscious Discipline: http://consciousdiscipline.com/

CSEFEL: http://csefel.vanderbilt.edu/

 

 

 

 

 

What I have learned

Hope

When I think about working with children and families there are many hopes that I have.  I hope that I can help children develop good self-identity as well as foster a respect of others within them.  I hope that I can work with families to help them understand their viewpoints and be an advocate for all families so that every child is able to get what they need to be successful.  I would love to say ultimately my hope would be to live in a world were we all play a part and help each other despite our differences. 

 

Goal

As an early childhood teacher, I feel that I still have a lot to learn about myself and anti-bias work with children.  My goals is to keep being reflective by using a journal, attending workshops and continuing to learn and expand my understanding of the issues that surround children and the early childhood field.

 

Thank you

I just want to say thank you to everyone!  I have enjoyed reading and seeing all your ideas and creativity.  I have been on this journey with a few of you since the start and I see that we are all in the next class together as well.  I look forward to learning more with you all!!

Creating Art

IMG_0848

This week we were asked to create a piece of art that shows what we have learned during the last seven weeks.  What I thought about was how we can have positive influences on children like ; love, information, and responsive relationships, that help children build this wall of resilience, empathy, positive self identity , etc… The positive factors then in turn protect children from all the negative influences, or life situations that may have an impact on their development or how they see others.