Ask Hello. Different Approaches to Family Trees
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NAEYC’s HELLO online forum is a great place to have conversations and create connections with peers around important early learning issues.
Excerpts from Hello have been edited for style and length.
I was curious to see how some of you approached the classroom family tree for children who may be living with someone who is not a biological parent, for any number of reasons.
I’ve seen classrooms with a “People Who Love Us” display, with posted photos of any family and/or significant people in each child’s life.
As a former foster mom and educator, I approach the family tree by emphasizing that each family is important and special and by displaying houses with different types of families (examples include stepfamilies, single-parent families, two-parent families, grandparents, same-sex families, foster families, and adoptive families). All of these families look different but have the same functions. No one is left out, and everyone feels loved and part of a family.
The children in my classroom create a poster of who, what, where, and when is important to them. They can include anything, including photos, cutouts, or drawings of any people, activities, events, pets, things, and/or places that are important in their lives. It is a very open-ended activity that they create to share with the class and post in the room. The posters have been very diverse in content and a great conversational focal point for the children in my classrooms over the years. Not everyone includes photographs. Some do draw pictures and/or use magazine cutouts, stickers, etc. Those posters are just as well received by everyone in the class as the ones with photographs.
Do you have questions or suggestions to share with your peers? Are you simply interested in reading different takes from early childhood educators around the country? Tap into the vibrant discussions on HELLO at hello.NAEYC.org/welcomehello
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