Inspiring, cute, and clever door decorations are a common sight around Highlands School, but during ‘this’ year, those classroom door displays haven’t gotten the visibility they normally do. Diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging are important topics in a diverse society and global community. Those lessons begin as early as 18 months old in our Family Center classrooms. The toddler classroom is in the midst of explorations of similarities and differences in the people around us, evident from their door display.
"They are capable of recognizing and acknowledging one another as different and unique," shared toddler teacher Terita Young
. Early childhood curriculum often connects instructional activities with events during the year. February is both Black History month and contains Valentine's Day. Love and belonging go hand-in-hand.
"Love, kindness, and acceptance are all evident to children at an early age," shared toddler teacher Jill Baccus P'30
. "They know how to stand up for what's right while recognizing what's bright and special about each other." The classroom recently focused on two books Sulwe
by Lupita Nyong'o and I am Strong: A Little Book About Rosa Parks
by Brad Meltzer. Each book empowers children to see the unique gifts in each person with differences being strengths, rather than weaknesses.
"They can truly understand and appreciate differences and accept the variety in the world and people around them," stated toddler teacher Kate Obracay
. "And, they want to share that." Baccus, Obracay and Young recently created a door design to share their curriculum with the community in a year when parents are unable to enter to see bulletin boards and samples of student work. Titled, "Love Everyone," the word everyone is an acronym. Each letter is found within a word of inspiration and encouragement personified by leaders of color.
The lessons about important African-American leaders recently featured inventor Garret Morgan and his invention of the three-position traffic light. After learning about the traffic light and making connections to their own experiences, the two-year-olds played the popular game Red-Light, Green-Light with their classmates.
“When we talk about diversity and inclusion and equity and belonging, we have to start with the youngest children." -Kavita Vasil, Head of School