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  • 1.  Advocating for Play-Centered, Culturally-Responsive Learning

    Posted 05-01-2017 09:53 AM
    I'm white and I've struggled with figuring out how to advocate for play-centered learning in ways that are culturally-responsive when I've worked in low-income and working class communities of color where a lot of parents want to see worksheets or other kinds of "schoolwork" and get worried when kids are "just playing." I don't want to just say, "I know better than you." I want to be willing to take their own expertise and goals into account and also provide the best kinds of experiences I can for the kids. Does anyone have cross-race and cross-class experience with these kinds of conversations?

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    Benjamin Planton
    Bloomington, IN
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  • 2.  RE: Advocating for Play-Centered, Culturally-Responsive Learning

    Posted 05-01-2017 10:24 AM
    I take the same tactic with this issue as I do with many other differences with parents. I start by acknowledging the conflict and that there may be some race, culture or class differences involved and really just listen to the parent to try to understand what their real concern is - usually it's a fear that their child won't be ready for school. Then I try to address that by showing them how their child can get the skills they need to from the kind of play we offer in our program. I sometimes use the free videos on <g class="gr_ gr_63 gr-alert gr_gramm gr_inline_cards gr_run_anim Grammar only-ins doubleReplace replaceWithoutSep" id="63" data-gr-id="63">play</g> that the Center for Early Childhood at Eastern Connecticut State offers on their website as part of this - or as a proactive way to help parents understand how much is going on in play before it even becomes an issue. I love the Investigating video series on the same site too. In the end, usually they feel comfortable with what we're doing, but if their not I look for ways to compromise.

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    Deborah Valentine
    Culver City CA
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  • 3.  RE: Advocating for Play-Centered, Culturally-Responsive Learning

    Posted 05-02-2017 09:19 AM
    Thank you for sharing that resource! There are a lot of interesting videos on that site. Here is a link - Center for Early Childhood Education
    Easternct remove preview
    Center for Early Childhood Education
    Alphabetical List of All CECE Videos Abstract Counting (Supporting Mathematical Development series) Arranging the Classroom (from Guiding Young Children's Behavior series) Asking Open-Ended Questions (Family Reading Time series) Asking Wh- Questions (Family Reading Time series) The Bakery: Su...
    View this on <g class="gr_ gr_127 gr-alert gr_spell gr_inline_cards gr_run_anim ContextualSpelling ins-del multiReplace" id="127" data-gr-id="127">Easternct</g> >


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    Benjamin Planton
    Bloomington IN
    Infant Toddler Outcome Specialist
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  • 4.  RE: Advocating for Play-Centered, Culturally-Responsive Learning

    Posted 05-02-2017 11:08 AM
    I totally understand this situation. I am a multi-degreed woman of color and owner and director of a Level 3 Family Child Care Home. When I thought that most of my students would be children of color, I knew that I would  need to teach the families what was DAP, but that I also had to prepare our students for admission into the best schools in Indianapolis. At the same time, there is definitely the perception among African Americans  that we have to outperform European Americans in every aspect of our society, in order to be given half the credit. Parents of African Americans are sensitive to the statistical fact that our children are viewed more frequently through lenses of maladaptive behavior by educators, counselors, and administrators. Also, with education being the one constant thing in our society that might make or break the future of a family of color, it remains the thing that can be pursued with a fervent hope that it will make a difference. But that is just not the case, as we know. What I have found in my practice, however, is that since most of my families are not African American, that applying the practices of play based learning, without rote memorization or some of the hallmarks of a Classical Education, for example, that my families can leave our facility and attend the best pre-k and kindergarten programs in the city. The ironic thing is that if my children were African American and went into their neighborhood schools, they would NOT be ready for the worksheet-type "teaching" that is the hallmark of many charter and public schools in our community.

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    Cindy Vaughn
    Cindy''s Ctr for Young Learners @Fall Creek Place
    Indianapolis IN
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  • 5.  RE: Advocating for Play-Centered, Culturally-Responsive Learning

    Posted 05-02-2017 08:03 PM
    HI, Benjamin!
    I am also white. Most of my experience has been in the African American community. I would suggest beginning with the non-verbal. In each of the areas of the classroom (reading area, writing area, block area, art area, table games area - manipulative area, etc) post a label made of different colored construction paper 12 x 18 or two sheets of paper if needed.  Under the title post "Children are learning ......." If you have parents or volunteers, add "You can help by....". For the writing area  be sure to include something about invented spelling (phonetic spelling) being what we adults do when we text.

    Then take photos of the children playing and post them on a bulletin board especially in the hallway. Parents will see this and so will the other teachers and administrators. Label each photo with the skill or goal that the child is working on or has achieved. In other words the children are learning while they are playing.

    For a parent meeting have an activity in which parents are to copy a word in another language, I like to use the word "Welcome" in Arabic. If you have parents who know Arabic,  choose a  different language. such as, Chinese or an Asian language. Have the group copy the word three times. First, copy it. Second time. copy it with their non-preferred hand. (Right handers copy it with the left hand and left handers  copy it with their tight hand.) This gives the parents a sense of how difficult handwriting is for young children. Third, have them write the word without looking at it by turning the paper down so they do not see the word or turn it over on the back. The most important part is the discussion that you have afterwards. In Arabic writing begins at the right side of the paper, not on the left as  in English. Do not tell the parents ahead of time about this. Ask them at the end in the discussion on which side they started to write. Usually there is lots of laughter while they are doing this. Remind parents that there are seven stages of writing. The last one is the one we adults recognize.
    I hope these ideas will help.




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    Marie Kielty
    Kindergarten Interest Forum faciiltator
    Chicago, IL
    Retired Pk, Kg. primary teacher and math coordinator in a PK to Grade 3 school
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  • 6.  RE: Advocating for Play-Centered, Culturally-Responsive Learning

    Posted 05-06-2017 03:58 PM
    Hi Benjamin- what a thought provoking question! I have found that a great way to communicate how learning through play works is through documentation of children's work, displayed where parents can access it. We emphasize the word "work" as linked to "play" for chidren, and this seems to resonate with the concerns parents have about play = wasted time. Several public preschools schools in our area follow Reggio inspired methods. If you're interested in learning more about that documentation or the Reggio inspired model this blog is a great place to start:
    Be Reggio Inspired: Documentation and Display
    Letthechildrenplay remove preview
    Be Reggio Inspired: Documentation and Display
    Welcome to the sixth post in the series "Be Reggio Inspired ." To date, we have looked at: Top Reggio inspired blogs Reggio inspired indoor environments Reggio inspired outdoor environments Reggio inspired learning materials Reggio inspired learning experiences Reggio inspired displays Reggio inspired on Facebook and Pinterest Reggio Inspired Documentation and Display " Documentation can serve to illuminate the thinking, a change in thinking that occurred, what was learned or not learned, the evolution of the behaviour questioning, maturity, responses, and opinions.
    View this on Letthechildrenplay >


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    Krista Murphy [Designation]
    Costa Mesa CA
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