Teaching Practices That Help Young Children Find Acceptance
- Use the teaching team to build primary caregiver relationships with each child through the structured (daily) use of small groups.
- Arrange for team members who get along well with vulnerable children to work with those children in their small groups.
- Use intentionally welcoming responses when each child (and family member) arrives.
- Hold regular contact talks with every child each day.
- Try contact talks upon arrival when children are showing Level Three mistaken behaviors (see Chapter 9).
- Adapt curriculum and instruction to be inclusive of children vulnerable for stigma; often this means offering more physically active experiences (see Chapter 10).
- Be intentionally supportive of children vulnerable for stigma during guidance interventions.
- Build and maintain positive relationships with children and their families.
Teaching Practices That Help Young Children Express Strong Emotions in Non-Hurting Ways
- Consider children to be months old rather than years old. Think of classroom conflicts as mistaken behavior anyone can make in the difficult process of learning the democratic life skills.
- Rise above value judgments about either children or their behavior when conflicts occur. Look at classroom conflicts as teaching and learning opportunities in relation to the democratic life skills.
- Build relationships and trust levels with children outside of conflict situations.
- During conflicts, sustain trust levels by not embarrassing children and being intentionally supportive of children’s self-esteem—firm, but also friendly.
- Make sure the use of developmentally appropriate practice is inclusive and supports the abilities and needs of every child in the group. Regard off-task behavior as a sign the program needs review and possible modification.
- Use your knowledge about young children to recognize the sources of conflicts—property disputes, territory disagreements, and privilege conflicts being the most common sources.
- Use your knowledge of the child to head off serious conflicts, ease children through conflicts that occur, and facilitate mutually satisfactory resolutions to conflicts.
- After triaging for injuries, use calming techniques as a first step in guidance interventions for resolving conflicts.
- Decide whether an intervention calls for a guidance talk, conflict mediation, or a class meeting.
- Use the five-finger formula for social problem solving, more formally in conflict mediation situations, less formally in guidance talks and class meetings.
- Teach children conflict management skills by intentionally moving from high-level mediation to low-level mediation to child negotiation.
- With children who experience continuing conflicts, use comprehensive guidance, including the relationships already being built with family members.
Teaching Practices That Help Young Children Accept Unique Human Qualities in Others
- Model friendly relations and accepting relationships with every child in the class.
- Model friendly relations and accepting relationships with all other adults in the class, in particular children’s family members who visit.
- Model and teach conflict management techniques that show understanding and respect for all parties involved.
- Plan and implement cooperative activities that involve children and adults in the classroom across different diversities—gender, age, race, language ability, and so on—in order to promote inclusive group spirit.
- Use private acknowledgment and encouragement with individuals and groups showing inclusive social relations across different diversities within the class.
- On an interactive basis, invite families to share aspects of their linguistic, ethnic, interest, and activity micro-cultures with the class, and build an inclusive social studies program around features of family and community life. (Micro-cultures refer to the mix of cultural, linguistic, ethnic, religious, social, and personality variables in any family that define the values, beliefs, interests, activities, and behavior tendencies of that family.)
- Practice anti-bias and liberation teaching to make discriminatory, excluding comments and incidents into teaching and learning opportunities in relation to the worthiness of each individual as a full member of the group.
Excerpted from Education for a Civil Society: How Guidance Teaches Young Children Democratic Life Skills by Dan Gartrell, 119, 126, 142. 2012. This book is available for purchase in the NAEYC Store.
Copyright © National Association for the Education of Young Children.