The checklist I am giving you below is a basic one and an opportunity for you to complete an audit with regards to seeing how far you and your setting has gone to make families, children, young people and your local community welcome within your setting when it comes to LGBT.
This post is all about how you can create an early childhood setting that is welcoming for all children and families. This post is recommended for all Early Years settings including those within a school and outreach setting.
A feeling of belonging is an important feeling when you are a child and is also critical to every family too. The well-being and the drive to form relationships help children fulfil to their potential in all areas of their development – physically, emotionally, socially and cognitively. A good quality Early Years provision can expand on children’s experiences of forming relationships when the culture or curriculum make partnership working with families and communities central to the themes of the learning and outcomes for the children.
We also need to get behind Family Week which is run by Laura Henry in November each year. It is a celebration of families. You can get resources and ideas by joining in and registering. 2019 was a real success and I cannot wait to see what 2020 will bring.
This blog focuses on three key areas
- Early Years Setting and Family Communications
- Daily Learning Areas – where the children play and engage with each other
Early Years Setting and Family Communications
Are the application forms that families complete friendly to all families? Do they us language such as parent or guardian instead of mother/father?
- Do you ask the families about who the important people are in their children’s lives, and what children call them? For example, if a child has two dads, are they called “Daddy” and Papi.” Or if a grandmother is raising a child, is she “Grandma” or “Nana”?
- Do all children and families see themselves represented in letters and announcements? For example, do letters say, “Dear Families, welcome to our new project this month . . ” or “Please bring this letter home to your family” (rather than to your “mommy and daddy”)
- Are communications translated into the languages families speak?
- Are there photos in common areas and in the learning spaces of families – these could be families working, playing. Do they depict the many ways that children and families interact with each other. Showing how they all engage in the world.
- Do photos and displays promote inclusiveness and definitions of families? So are there photos of adoptive, LGBT, grandparent and multi-race families?o the images show people who are presentative of diverse races/ethnicities, economic status, physical ability, age and different family structures?
- Do your posters, children’s art, children’s book displays and photos of your real families, including the staffs in your setting?
- Is there a place to display a family gallery? This can include every family in your setting, even the staff’s families?
- Are these visible to the children, making displays at eye level. This can provide day to day conversations.
Daily Learning Areas – where the children play and engage with each other
- Do figures of families and people represent different cultures and families?
- Are there multiple sets of family figure dolls, so that children can group them to represent their own family?
- Are figures stored in arrangements rather than separate, are they changed every time so that the figures don’t represent just one type of family?
Role play area
- Do you have props that encourage multiple ways of playing family or other imaginative play?
- Are you encouraging children to dress up in different dress up materials? How accessible are these?
Group activities – circle/family group times
- Do you talk about different types of families?
- Do you address name calling and hurtful behaviours?
- Do you teach positive interactions?
- Do you communicate with children about things that they have in common and the differences we have between us?
In the writing area (not a specific area but a place where there are places to mark make)
- Are there photos and prompts that encourage children to write and tell?
- Are children’s stories, pictures or marks shared with other children in ways that encourage respectful exploration of each other’s experiences and ideas.
- Are there materials and opportunities for children to express their ideas about themselves/others
- Are children encouraged to share their work and ideas in ways that invite conversation and exploration?
- Is there a thoughtful selection of songs that represent diversity, exposure to different kinds of music?
- Can children identify with the people and experiences they are singing about?
- Do you change lyrics of common children’s songs to more inclusive?
Example: Five little Monkeys…
Five little monkeys jumping on the bed
One fell off and bumped (his or her) head
Mum or Dad called the doctor,
And the doctor said
No more monkeys jumping on the bed
- Do the books that you display and read represent different kinds of families?
- Do books that are used for discussion with children allow then to share their own experiences, ask questions, and explore the many ways of being in our world?
- Do you have books that show diverse cultures
- Are children engaged in making their own books? My family books? Are these displayed for everyone to read and share?
Everything that we do with young children has the opportunity to explore ideas and ask questions. Children have their own stories to tell and it is Important that we give them the time and space to be able to tell them. Seeing the world through their own lens and through their won experiences prepares them to live within a diverse world. This allows the child to understand and gain a sense of belonging, and learning about everyone else around them.