Create a Nourishing Classroom Culture 63
Reflect Rather than following the cultural trend to commer-
cialize all occasions, Ann creates personalized ways
to acknowledge significant experiences in the chil-
dren’s lives or their community. She also invites the
children to commemorate people who are import-
ant to them. These homemade creations make the
children’s ideas visible and they serve as memory
books for future years. They demonstrate to children
how ideas can be written down and read back and
explored more fully through drawings, photographs,
and collages. This is an important literacy outcome
for young children.

they sometimes include the same components from
families. A book might be focused on birthdays, how
families celebrate winter holidays, Día de los Muertos
(Day of the Dead), or heroes such as Rosa Parks, Mar-
tin Luther King Jr., and Cesar Chavez who inspire chil-
dren to stand up for fairness. When a child leaves her
group, Ann and her colleagues work with the other
children to make a good-bye book (like the pages
reproduced here from Natalie’s good-bye book) with
drawings, photos, and reflections on their friendships
and memories. They unveil the book by inviting the
departing child’s family to a special good-bye celebra-
tion, usually with a snack at the end of the day.

Refugee and Immigrant Family Center, a chapter
of Sound Child Care Solutions
Refugee and Immigrant Family Center, a chapter
of Sound Child Care Solutions
Sending Getting to Know This Child
Books to Kindergarten
light key aspects of who this child is to help draw the
Homemade books can be used to introduce a child
questions in their Getting to Know this child books:
teacher to this child and offer a foundation to support
her learning. We ask our teachers to address these
who leaves your program for another program or who
acquired school readiness skills. We see this as a gift
• Who is this child as a member of a family/culture/
community? • What curiosities, interests, enjoyments does this
child have?
• How does this child try to become a friend, and
what friendships are emerging for this child?
• How does this child approach learning something
new? Attempt to solve problems?
• Why are you delighted to have this child in your
group? to both the child and the teacher and as a tool for the
—Luz goes off to kindergarten. Luz describes this process at
her center in the following way.

We are committed to getting to know each child fully
and when they leave us, we want to give their new
teachers a snapshot of this. Our goal is to help the
child’s new teacher see who this child is, her special
qualities, family strengths, learning process, and
child’s family to use as her advocate. We try to high-

64 Chapter 2
Reflect With many children to get to know, teachers can eas-
ily overlook, misjudge, or miss out on the strengths
of children who arrive in their rooms. This can par-
ticularly be a problem when the teacher and child are
from different cultures, when the family is still learn-
ing English, or when children are expressing their
feelings or needs in ways that disrupt a classroom.

As a director, Luz works hard to help her teachers
form a strong relationship with each child and fam-
ily, and after experiencing the value of this, the teach-
ers want to offer what they’ve learned to the child’s
next teacher.

Deb has created a ritual to symbolize the transi-
tion from preschool to kindergarten by escorting
each child across a garden bridge purchased from a
landscaping store. During the weeks leading up to
the ritual, she and her coworkers talk with the chil-
dren about the meaning of this change in their lives
and how it touches the hearts of their teachers and
their families. The teachers describe how the bridge
symbolizes this impending change. Some children are
excited about becoming “big kids,” while others are
hesitant about leaving what is familiar. Each of these
emotions is explored in conversation and with props.

The children’s collective sentiments are incorporated
into the ritual, creating a unique celebration. For
instance, one year, the children wanted to cross the
Crossing the Bridge
bridge alone. The ritual was changed so that instead
Graduation ceremonies are educational traditions,
of the teachers holding the children’s hands while
but are they developmentally appropriate for young
they walked over the entire bridge, the teachers held
children? Notice how Deb creates for the children a
the children’s hands only until they reached the center
meaningful understanding of leaving preschool.

of the bridge. At that point, the teachers dramatically
threw their hands in the air with a celebratory cheer
Burlington Little School
and the children finished crossing the bridge alone.

Reflect Deb and her colleagues recognize that the end of
a child’s preschool years is significant for both the
adults and the child. Some families are filled with
pride and a sense of collective accomplishment
because this is the first graduation for their children.

Others are reluctant to see their babies grow up.

Teachers, too, have these same emotions. They have
invested themselves fully in these relationships and
now the children will be leaving. When teachers are
sensitive to the range of everyone’s feelings and per-
spectives, they can translate the most common senti-
ments into a ceremony with authenticity instead of a
meaningless school tradition.