Is Your Classroom a White Space?

decentering whitenessA few months ago I was browsing my Facebook newsfeed when I came across a post from an ECE colleague of color. The post gave me a jolt like none other in recent memory. The article was titled Why People of Color Need Spaces Without White People. One passage of the article states:

Merely inviting more people of color into a space does not in and of itself make that space inclusive. Patterns of white dominance suffuse the space just like other spaces we occupy, only this time, we’re calling it “inclusive.” That’s more painful and frustrating than being in spaces that are [color] blind. Continue reading

Six Aspects of Raising a Socially Conscious Child

maya angelou quoteSince developing this website and speaking on behalf of it, I periodically hear variations of: “This is not as simple as you make it sound. Make me a believer and I will be totally on board.”  I get it, and all the more reason for the slogan of this website: “Listen, Speak Up, Engage and Unite.” I can’t promise this blog post will make you a believer, but it should give you a better idea of how we have been working to raise socially conscious children. Continue reading

Because There Aren’t Enough Black Fairies

IMG_0301 (1)Until today, my posts have been about experiences with my older daughter.  This is the first post specifically about my younger daughter.  For years she has been by our side while I talk with my older daughter, but this is the first time the conversation was just the two of us.  It may have helped that her older sister was gone for the morning.

My younger daughter celebrated her fifth birthday last weekend.  One of her gifts was a small white plaster fairy.  The gift came with paints and a paintbrush with instructions for personalizing the fairy.  The illustration on the box was a fairy with fair skin, very similar to her skin tone.  After setting up the fairy and paint on top of a paper bag with a cup of water I walked to the sink to wash dishes.

After five minutes I returned to her side to observe the progress of her masterpiece.  I immediately noticed that the porcelain white arms of the fairy’s arms, legs and face had been painted black, the dress was blue and the mushrooms surrounding the fairy were a variety of colors with spots.  Continue reading

Generalizing Abstract Concepts of (In)justice and (In)equity

Elk meatPrejudice and discrimination have been a topic of conversation for my older daughter and me for about two years.  It started with the advent of wall building, carrying on through all types of topics that almost always include the words prejudice and discrimination.  I’m happy to say that there is clear evidence that she has learned to incorporate these abstract concepts into her everyday routine.  However, of late she has taken it a little too far for her mother to tolerate. Continue reading

Filling a Cracked Bucket

cracked bucketRecently, I’ve been discovering that my techniques and strategies to talk with my soon to be eight-year-old.  For the past couple of years when I have been asked a question about this confusing complex world we live in I pulled ideas form books, television shows, and movies she was familiar with.  She was engaged and the conversations never had a conclusion.  It was open for ongoing follow-up questions from either of us.  While I continue to use the past books, television shows and movies her questions are requiring me to go beyond the immediate content and extend it to abstract concepts that go beyond the storylines.  In short, Daniel Tiger, Zootopia and Have you Filled a Bucket Today are a bit too simple for my daughter…but that doesn’t mean they don’t continue to be the foundation of our conversations.  It is the idea of creating a foundation early on that is central to discussing (in)justice and (in)equity with young children.

The most recent challenge occurred when she asked me, “Why don’t we adopt a child who is in foster care.  They need families.”  As usual, I had to pause and consider a formulated response that made sense to my experiences. Continue reading

Why Don’t We Ever See Children With Disabilities at the Playground?

Don't call me specialAbout a week ago, I was supervising my daughters as they played on a playground.  This was a new playground for us.  It was pretty typical.  A ground cover of wood chips, slides, bars to climb across, walls to climb up, etc.  They also had six swings, two for babies and toddlers, two traditional and, less common two adaptive swings.  These swings are typically blue or red, look like an upright reclining chair, and have four chains connecting them to the cross bar; two in the front and two in the back.  They are designed to support children who do not have the size, core strength or muscle tone to sit on the other swings. Also rare for playgrounds were the rubber walkway/ramps that wove through the wood chips.  Each ramp lead to a piece of playground equipment.  I took brief notice of these features, but I didn’t consider them something worth pointing out to the children.  I was wrong.

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The Elephant We Fail To See

This article was originally published at https://kristiepf.com/the-elephant-we-fail-to-see-guest-blog/

KPF blog Feature-ImageIt was mid-April. The speech pathologist, occupational therapist, school psychologist, family and I, the early childhood special educator, were gathered around a large round table two feet off the ground, all sitting in child-sized chairs for Jose’s kindergarten transition meeting. It was our fifth of seven kindergarten transition meetings that spring.

Twenty-minutes after the meeting had begun, it was over. Jose’s mother had walked out of the room crying.  His father followed behind her. The transition team was silent for a few moments. Then, Edgar, the school psychologist, looked at the team and said, “It’s hard to complete a transition meeting if the family doesn’t see the reality of their child’s disability?” Continue reading

When You Need to Talk About Suicide

The love huntSeveral months ago a colleague of my wife tragically died by suicide.  My wife and I talked about it a few times, but the conversations were brief, especially around the children.  However, we were aware that they heard some of our dialogue.  Nonetheless, neither asked for more information…at the time.

Death is something we have discussed with our seven-year-old countless times.  It became a regular topic of conversation after watching the children’s movies The Book of Life and Coco, which both have a narrative based on the afterlife.  But we have never talked about death in the context of suicide…that is until a month or so ago. Continue reading

Why Early Childhood Professionals Need to Talk About Gender

male-teacher
Nearly all professionals in early childhood care and education (ECCE) are statistically identified as a woman. This information alone has set the stage and tone for many conversations regarding gender in the profession. That said, like everything else related to identity, gender in the profession of ECCE is complex.

What is Gender?

The breakdown of gender representation in ECCE is 97.7% women and 2.3% men. However, gender is not as binary as statistics communicate, society wants to believe and, frankly speaking, many are just beginning to wrap their head around.

As a man who identifies as a cisgender, I didn’t begin to consider, understand and talk about the complexities of gender until recent years. Even after years of building my awareness, I am consistently reminded of blind spots and ignorance. Many of the things I catch myself saying or doing are considered by advocates for justice and equity as microaggressions.

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What Political Correctness Means to Early Educators

Recently, students in my Introduction to Early Childhood Education course and I were discussing the topic of communication in early childhood programs.  I began the class by showing the students the picture below.  I asked them, “What thoughts come to mind when you look at this picture?”

Skilled Dialogue

Samantha, a White woman in her 30s said, “I feel like the  spoken language is just people trying to be politically correct with their words.  Everyone is so concerned about saying the right thing and not hurting anyone’s feelings and no one can really tell the truth…what’s really on their mind.”

Politically correct…can you tell us more about what you mean by that?” I asked.

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