As our youngest learners, 3 and 4 year-olds are learning about themselves and others every waking minute. Research suggests that humans notice difference in one another from a very young age, making it vital that they get opportunities to make sense of those differences in ways that encourage appreciation and celebration. The Nursery “All About Me” curriculum includes explicit exploration of physical variation in skin color, hair, eye color, height, family structure and language. We are building essential cultural competency skills by helping them to describe themselves in comparison to others and to embrace difference. Doing this work with our youngest students proactively counters natural tendencies to fear what is not familiar.
Who am I? Who is my family?
How do we treat each other with kindness?
How do I know and share my feelings? What does my body tell me about my feelings?
How do I share my feelings so others can hear me?
How do I care for someone who is sad or hurt?
How do I resolve or fix a problem with another person?
These and other questions are at the core of the important work our nursery learners do each day. Their teachers explicitly plan opportunities for them to build the most foundational of interpersonal skills. For example, the children greet one another during morning meeting by using first names and making eye contact. In addition, they practice conversational turn taking as well as giving others time and space to share. In Science, a Hair display board is presented with a story about how important it is to ask people before touching their hair. Children take turns asking the characters on the display board for permission, and giggle when the characters answer back.
Nursery teachers also embrace unanticipated moments for learning. A child in tears because their classmate doesn’t want to share the firefighter hat is an opportunity to help both children practice expressing their feelings and noticing the body language of the other. A unit within “All About Me” focuses on feelings. The class explores what feeling look and feel like. Many scenarios are presented using a variety of feelings and the class problem solves together. This can be accomplished through role play with teachers and students or with puppets.
It is a 3 year-old’s job to test behaviors to see what happens. As they do so, they are gently reminded that the classroom space is for everyone and that all of the toys are for everyone. This early message of inclusivity and respect for everyone is vital to our mission as a Friends school.Inquire