Every year around the holidays we receive a gift catalog providing us with an opportunity to buy a farm animal for families living in Africa. I have tacitly accepted it as a harmless piece of junk mail. The catalog typically sits in our pile of junk mail. But, after my older daughter commented on it, I was forced to give it some attention.
“Dad, can we buy an animal for a family in Africa. The animals are for families in Africa who don’t have their rights met. They need our help. Come, look,” she said. Continue reading →
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 →
Prejudice 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 →
About 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.
Several 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 →
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?”
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.”
Suspension and expulsion in early childhood education is troubling. Most troubling is the fact that, while Black boys account for less than 20% of the students enrolled in programs, they account for more than 50% of the children suspended and expelled. This is only the beginning of the issue.
The questions I like to ask in my classes and trainings are “Why…?” In this case, why would any early childhood professional feel it is appropriate to suspend or expel young children from an early childhood program? Why are Black boys disproportionately overrepresented? Why is the disproportionality a national trend? The short answer…that only leads to more “why” questions is implicit bias against Black boys.
My daughter’s favorite book for the past two months has been “For the right to learn: Malala Yousafzai’s story.” So it wasn’t all that surprising when, on our way to the grocery store this afternoon she asked, “Do all Muslim women have to wear a hijab?” Continue reading →
As a teacher, father, and advocate, early childhood care and education has been central to who I am since 2003. Over the years, a handful of experiences have helped me understand what it truly means to be a man in the lives of young children. Some have been funny, others worth a casual nod. But far too many have been disconcerting. They lead me to feel like men don’t belong in early childhood care education (ECCE).
Daddy, what’s an opioid overdose? Sweetie, that’s another great question that we’ve never really talked about. Like many of the other great question you have, I don’t have a perfect answer and if you ask other people, they may disagree with me. If my answer doesn’t make sense or we feel we need more information, I will find someone else who can help us.