Politics and Young Children

My guess is this is going to be a tough post to write, but I have to try.  I was driving two children to school today and, as they were buckling their seat belts on the school bus I asked if they knew why today was a big day.  They both said no.  I told them it is Inauguration Day and asked if they know what that means.  Another no.  I told them Inauguration Day is the day we get a new president.  One of the kids then said “Does that mean Donald Trump won’t be President?”  That, of course, lead to the discussion that until now it was President Elect Trump and that today President Obama would stop being President and Donald Trump would start being President in a few hours.

The next thing one of the children said was I hope my mommy gets to stay.  I asked her what she meant.  She said that her mommy has darker skin and that kids say people with dark skin are going to have to leave the country.  Wow.

Clearly the conversation continued and we discussed how her mommy was born in the United States so she automatically has permission to stay.  We talked about how the color of a person’s skin does not define who is or is not a citizen and how a person might become a citizen if they are not born here.  It was quite a conversation for a short bus ride.

After I dropped the children off at school I had time to ponder.  I wonder how long she has been nervous about her mom having to leave the country.  Has she discussed this with her family and with her teachers?  As adults we often have no idea what children are thinking about.  We ask questions and get shoulder shrugs and short answers; but, sometimes we get long answers that give us insight into their thoughts.  Sometimes what we learn is wonderful, other times terrifying, and still other times, sad.  BUT, our role as adults is to keep asking, keep conversing and, most importantly, to keep caring.

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Following the Lead of the Children! – by Tricia Grogan

In the Quail room we have one year olds, so we never know where our art projects will  take us.  The other day we put contact paper down on a table sticky side up. The theme of the week was fall and harvest, so we put colorful fabric leaves on the table for the kids to put on the sticky paper. The children had fun sticking the leaves on the paper and even more fun pulling the leaves off the sticky paper. Some enjoyed throwing the leaves into the air and just looking at the leaves. One child brought over a container of crayons. At first I was going to say you can’t color on contact paper, but I stopped myself, opened the container and let them choose a color. You know what? You can color on contact paper!  They all had so much fun coloring on the contact paper! It was amazing how happy they were and how much they enjoyed all parts of the activity. This was a great reminder to us adults that following the lead of the kids takes us to wonderful places.

Contact Paper & Crayons

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Strong Start Tucson

Below is a post I wrote for the Strong Start Tucson website.  Please go learn more at www.strongstarttucson.org

When I think about Strong Start Tucson I get excited.  I get excited because Strong Start Tucson will make a difference, not just in the lives of individual children but in the community today, tomorrow and long into the future.  I get excited because the idea of high quality preschool for all children is not something we just came up with.  I get excited because we know from research done by economists, educators and others that high quality preschool makes a measureable impact in eliminating poverty, ensuring children are successful in kindergarten, increasing high school graduation rates and even ensuring adults are employed and in committed relationships.

Never before have I worked on a project that will impact the community and our education system the way Strong Start Tucson will.  I feel privileged to work on such a project and feel honored to work with the leadership team of Strong Start Tucson.  As you learn more about SST you will learn how we studied other communities and their successes with accessible high quality preschool.  You will learn how we will build on the current early childhood system to wisely use tax revenue and, most importantly, you will learn all the benefits of a high quality early childhood system in Tucson.

Please help us as we share our vision for Tucson.  Let this become your vision for the community in which you live – a community where we work together to offer high quality preschool experiences to all children.

 

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Not Mom – A Short Story

One of our Javelina teachers, Ms. Starr Lee, just shared an awesome story.  We often talk about how concrete and literal toddlers are – here is a great example.

One of her two year olds often calls her “Mom”.  When that happens Starr has been responding “I’m Not Mom.”  Makes sense to all of us – right?

The other day this child came up to Ms. Starr and tapped her on the leg, urgently calling “Not Mom Not Mom Not Mom” trying to get her attention using what she apparently thinks is her name!

I guess Starr needs to change the way she responds when this child calls her “Not Mom” – I’m certain her birth certificate does not say “Not Mom Lee”!

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Be A Curious Person

Judy Jablon, author of the book Powerful Interactions, recently spent 4 hours with our staff.  We worked together on how to ensure powerful interactions occur between teachers and children throughout the day.  We know how lucky we are to have spent time with Judy and look forward to her return to Tucson so we can continue to work together.

Judy told us…..”Be a curious person in front of small children.”  It is important for children to see adults as learners.  It is also essential for adults to let children take control of their own play.  In fact, if I can quote Judy again, “The minute you start playing you undermine a child’s inventiveness.”

This doesn’t mean to stop playing with children; however, it does mean we need to pause and see where we fit into the play situation.  We can use phrases like “I wonder what would happen if….” to stimulate a child’s curiousity.  We can sit on our hands to prevent ourselves from placing the key block in the tower that we know will make it balance but that we want a child to figure out on her own.

We strongly suggest reading Powerful Interactions.  You child will be glad you did!

 

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Unfreeze KidsCare

Arizona is the only state in the nation without an active KidsCare (Children’s Health Insurance Program) program.

The Federal Government will pay 100% of the costs for KidsCare for the next 2 years.

160,000 Arizona children do not have health insurance, the second highest rate of uninsured kids in the nation.

The facts speak for themselves.

Call Governor Ducey today and tell him we are counting on him to unfreeze KidsCare.

(602) 542-4331

#UnfreezeKidsCare

 

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It’s the Little Things…by Maggie Christy

And, of course, it’s the little people most of all, that we are thankful to have in our lives.  Just the other day, in the Cottontail classroom, one of our littlest people was on his tummy a few inches away from one of his favorite toys.  He hasn’t quite started crawling yet so when he spied the toy in front of him we wondered what he would do.  He stretched.  He reached.  He wiggled.  Then he did it all again.  By that time, both teachers and the two parents visiting in the room had made a cheering squad for this tiny and persistent person.  I’m pretty sure that they heard us cheer in the kitchen and office when he succeeded in reaching the toy, grabbed it and then looked at all the friendly “giants” and grinned.  That’s why we come to work….

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Talent Show

Yesterday our Mountain Lion class (school age children) put on a talent show in  the afternoon.  They worked all week practicing and many of the kids were in multiple acts.  They invited the Roadrunner class to visit during the performance so the kids had quite a crowd watching.

It was wonderful seeing the result of many hours of practice.  Most of the acts were dancing, with hip-hop (is that what it is called) being the most popular.  We also were treated to some ballet and, of course, the Chicken Dance!

The smiles on the kids’ faces while they were performing were huge and I think they were super proud of themselves.  Next time we will have to figure out a way for families to come watch!  Go Mountain Lions!!

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The Hair Affair by Shamika Jackson

Kids are so observant.

The day after I shaved my head I came to work with a wig on.  This isn’t unusual for me, but it isn’t something that I have discussed with my class.  As some of you may know, the day after shaving your head is often itchy from little loose hairs.  So, I was, of course, scratching my head with both hands.  At first I scratched with the wig on.  That wasn’t satisfactory, so I pushed the wig back on my head and started to scratch.  This caught one student’s attention immediately.  His reaction was priceless.  His eyes were as big as saucers and he was, literally, speechless.  I didn’t know what to say, I just started laughing.

This goes to show us that our kids are ALWAYS paying attention!  We talked about wigs and I explained that I wear wigs because it hurts to comb my hair.  I have several different wigs and I still get interesting looks when I wear different styles.  Welcome to life in the Owl room!

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Initial Results!

We received an email the other day telling us our CLASS results were ready to view online.  Of course, the email came in 30 seconds before I had to go on a bus run and pick up children from school.  That was, of course, the longest bus run of my life!

Upon returning from the bus run and viewing our results I was ecstatic!  All of our CLASS scores exceeded the minimum mark to earn a 5 Star rating.  To earn the rating a school’s AVERAGE score must be above a certain number.  (The number varies depending on which dimension is being assessed.)  Our teachers did so well that the scores for each classroom exceeded the requirement.

When you see Ms. Dee and Ms. Elsa from the Gecko class and Ms. Bobbie and Ms. Natalie from the Quail class, please congratulate them.  They do wonderful work everyday and this really shined through during the assessment.

Our 5 Star rating is not official until the Quality First team reviews our polices, group sizes and ratios, but we are confident those will also meet the 5 Star, highest quality level.  Let us know if you have any questions – we hope you are excited to be a part of our continued success.

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