8 CHAPTER 1
hurt is helpful. Watch for changes in behavior or actions, and encourage children
to tell an adult when they are hurting. Model appropriate terminology; when a
child falls, say, “You scraped your knee,” rather than, “You have a boo-boo.”
Being able to identify body parts also helps children understand and ac-
cept differences. Children can recognize differences in height, weight, skin color,
hair color, and use of glasses or hearing aids. Although young children can see
physical differences, they may need help understanding how they are alike and
different. Protecting one’s body is another component of this topic. Help young chil-
dren learn how to exercise and nurture their bodies while also protecting them-
selves. Introduce children to the idea that clothing helps us stay healthy. Warm
clothing protects us from cold weather and wind, raincoats shield us from rain,
lightweight clothing keeps us from getting too warm, long sleeves and pants pro-
tect us from sunrays, and shoes protect our feet and toes. Shoes also protect our
feet from glass and other debris and from insect stings and bites.
Children have temperature preferences. Some children are comfortable in
short sleeves year-round, while others want to wear sweaters year-round. En-
courage children to recognize and express when they are uncomfortable (for
example, feeling too hot or cold) and to take appropriate actions (such as taking
off or putting on a jacket).
Children have limited control over what clothing is available to them. Encour-
age families to dress children in clothing that allows freedom of movement and in
footwear that provides support for running and jumping. Some families may not
have appropriate outerwear or clothing in appropriate sizes, but a child without
a warm coat at school may simply be stating her preference. If a family is in need
of clothing, you may want to check available program or community resources.
When offering assistance to families, be sensitive to their feelings.
Be aware that clothing choices may be informed by children’s family, cul-
tural, or religious backgrounds. Clothing is a significant part of individual and
group identification. Learn the correct terminology for and significance of spe-
cial clothing used by families in your classroom and community. As long as chil-
dren’s safety and health are not at risk, accept family choices for clothing.