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Blog Assignment: The Sexualization of Early Childhood

Reading Levin & Kilbourne (2009) brought back memories of a 2009 news story in the county in which I work about middle school children sexting.  Last month, the police department in the city in which I live announced officers are visiting students in all middle and high schools to teach them about sexting. Police want students to understand that by taking or sharing nude, partially naked, or provocative photos or videos, they are participating in child pornography. If a minor is caught with such photos or videos they could face felony charges of Possession of Child Pornography, Dissemination of Child Pornography, or Production of Child Pornography. These charges have a minimum of a year in prison.

Image result for princeIn my setting, I have a little girl who sings and dances to Prince songs.  She gyrates, uses adult language and has spoken about  getting $5 from a male who touches her all over because “that’s her man.”  She’s only four years old.

I have spoken with her mom about my observations who states she will speak to her child each time and there have been many times this year so far.

In recent days, I have witnessed my own child show interest in Youtube videos showing women in suggestive and explicit situations when he supposed to be engaging learning videos or Hot Wheels videos. I have noticed an increase in this type of awareness in relationship to his engaging the Disney Channel and a show called Andi Mack.

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The median age for children watching Andi Mack is 10 years old, my son’s age.  In a first for Disney Channel, a key character on its popular tween series realizes he’s gay and comes out to his friends.  The character – 13-year-old Cyrus Goodman, played by 15-year-old Joshua Rush – will begin his self-discovery in the second season one-hour premiere episode. Show creator Terri Minsky shares that the cast and everyone involved in the show takes great care in ensuring that it’s appropriate for all audiences and sends a powerful message about inclusion and respect for humanity. The Walt Disney Co. released a general statement on stories and characters, which reads, in part, “Disney remains committed to continuing to create characters that are accessible and relatable to all children (Evans, 2017).”

As a Christian mother, I take seriously the shows and experiences my children have access to. With this information in mind, I know to be more aware. While I appreciate the inclusion of all message, I do not agree with the message that ‘gay is okay’ because I know that relationships identified as such go against God’s law. I have had three children with same sex parents in classrooms in which I have worked in the seventeen years I have taught.  I have good relationships with those parents and they accept my religious beliefs about it because I treat them with dignity. Jesus did not come to condemn the world so I do not condemn people.

 

References

Evans, G. (2017). ‘Andi Mack’ Character To Come Out As Gay: A Disney Channel First. Retrieved from http://deadline.com/2017/10/disney-channel-andi-mack-character-come-out-gay-1202194584/

Levin, D. E., & Kilbourne, J. (2009). [Introduction]. So sexy so soon: The new sexualized childhood and what parents can do to protect their kids (pp. 18). New York: Ballantine Books. Retrieved from: http://dianeelevin.com/sosexysosoon/introduction.pdf

Luketich, K. (2017). MPD: Sexting can lead to child pornography charges. Retrieved from http://wkrg.com/2017/11/17/mpd-sexting-can-lead-to-child-pornography-charges/

 

 

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Evaluating Impacts on Professional Practice

I have experienced racism in my teaching career.

It is hard to believe that even though I work in a Head Start program–a program that works to give low income children a more equitable start in elementary school life; a program in which I have to not just be college educated but graduated–I, too, have experienced racism.  Though few, I have had parents of Caucasian children, not want to have their child in my classroom due to my skin color.  However, when you are unable to afford other child development options, you take the choice of least resistance.

See the source imageDerman-Sparks (1989) shares that race is not a scientifically valid way to categorize people. Yet, the concept racism gives the word ‘race’ social meaning.  The shared physical characteristics humans have are biologically more important than the variations in skin color, hair, texture and eye shape which are adaptations determined by different environments. Nonetheless, access to economic resource, political power and cultural rights is determined by membership in a particular race. Therefore children need guidance in sorting out their ideas and feelings about skin color, hair texture and eye shape so that racism does not harm their self concept or teach them to reject others.

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The perceived consequences for families whose children become members of the classroom I lead include less than 100% participation.  Families may not complete parent child activities which encourage school readiness and one on one parent child engagement.  Further, families may not give complete information about their child to me which could hamper my ability to fully provide complete learning opportunities for their child.

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Reference

Derman-Sparks, L. and the ABC Task Force. (1989). Anti-bias curriculum: Tools for empowering young children. Washington: NAEYC.

 

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Impacts on Early Emotional Development in East Asia/Pacific: Exploring the International Day of the Girl 2017

The current political climate between the US and East Asia led me to explore early emotional development in this region. Political pundits declare that war between our country and this region of the world seems eminent.

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Home to 60 percent of the world’s population, Asia-Pacific is the planet’s most disaster-prone region.  The United Nations warns countries to invest in resilience plans. Statistics state a person living in this region is 5 times more likely to experience disaster than any other place on the planet. The countries facing the greatest economic losses from disasters are the region’s largest economies like Japan and China.

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Sabrina Jaji, a youth focal point of Bugok Transitory Site, is pictured above inside a daycare centre at Bugok Bugok Transitory Site in the southern Philippine city of Zamboanga. Sabrina was in Grade 6 at the time of the 2013 siege in Zamboanga, Philippines, which sent 10,000 families homeless and helpless during an armed conflict. After days of hiding in the bushes, families moved to a sports stadium-cum-evacuation centre. Living conditions however were extremely poor and in many instances dangerous. There were many reported cases of rape and bullying; some of the victims were Sabrina’s friends. Violence, including sexual violence, school-related gender based violence and child marriage, is a health, human rights and protection issue that occurs at every stage of a conflict, and may become more acute in the wake of a disaster. The victims are usually women and adolescents, whose vulnerability is exacerbated in the chaos of a crisis. With UNICEF’s support, many girls like Sabrina received psycho-social support to help them cope with the impacts of the conflict and to learn about their rights to protection and health. Sabrina also joined UNICEF’s ‘Creating Connections’ life-skills workshops where she has become a peer facilitator to her fellow ethnic Badjao youth.

“I’m just happy they treat me like their ‘Ate’ [big sister], that they listen to me,” she says of her new role. “It feels good that I’m able to help keep them out of trouble. I learned about dealing with unsafe touches and gender-based violence; and a lot about the rights of children. I just want to be safe; now knowing about the rights I have, I know I should be protected as a girl and as a child.”

Over 2,000 children and adolescents received psycho-social support by late 2015, with an additional 1,300 joining ‘Creating Connections’.

I am glad that this resource exists for youth in the region. In a time in history where news stories about sexual harassment permeate the media, it is good to know that youth, particularly young girls, can learn to empower themselves through information, learning and teaching ways to stay safe and protected from unwanted touches and gender violence.

References

Thomson Reuters Foundation. (2017). Asia-Pacific region at higher risk from disasters, U.N. warns in report. Retrieved from https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/10/10/asia-pacific/asia-pacific-region-higher-risk-disasters-u-n-warns-report/#.Wj-7stiWyM8

Nazer, S. (2017). EmPOWER girls: international day of the girl 2017. Retrieved https://blogs.unicef.org/east-asia-pacific/empower-girls-international-day-of-the-girl-2017/

 

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Reflecting on Learning

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My passionate hope for my future as an early childhood professional is the ability to positively impact the current and future teaching and learning staff and to always be an advocate for children and childhood.  Current culture does not seem to value children, childhood, proper nutrition and movement.  It is evident in the blueprint of new elementary schools that do not add playgrounds to blueprints (Hammond, 2012) thus making it necessary for PTA programs,  local businesses and grant writers to help fund play spaces (Towner, 2017).  It is evident in programs that rely primarily on federal and state funds in which you see beautifully written menus that rarely seem to serve the foods listed on them (Fox59, 2017). Further, it is evident in families whose children can swipe right and left on digital devices but demonstrate low hand strength (Cobb Pediatric Therapy Services, 2016).

And now a note of thanks to my classmates for the last eight weeks.

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

References

Hammond, D. (2012). Why every student needs a playground to succeed. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/darell-hammond/why-students-need-a-playg_b_1746950.html

Towner, W. (2017). Groups donate money for Williamstown playground. Retrieved from http://www.mariettatimes.com/news/2017/12/groups-donate-money-for-williamstown-school-playground/

Fox59. (2017). Hamilton Southeastern to retrain kitchen staff after complaints about school lunch. Retrieved from https://www.indystar.com/story/news/local/hamilton-county/2017/12/17/hamilton-southeastern-retrain-kitchen-staff-after-complaints-school-lunch/959719001/

Cobb Pediatric Therapy Services. (2016). The best ideas for increasing hand strength in children. Retrieved from http://www.cobbpediatric.com/2016/05/20/best-ideas-increasing-hand-strength-children/

 

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Affirming Communication—Mindful Listening to and Speaking with Children

This was an incredible week to observe the children in my care. We prepared for Thanksgiving by creating bread, crafts, and costumes for the annual family luncheon Friday. For this observation, however, I watch four of the class members in the dramatic play area: two girls and two boys—all African American. The two girls are age 3 (D) and 4 ½ (A); and the boys are 4 (K) and 3 (M). A gets a receiving blanket from the doll bed and tells D she is setting the table. I notice that A has placed the chef’s hat on her head and the baking mitt on her hand. D places plastic food on the table. A walks some food to me. I ask to have my food served on a plate. A and D look on the shelf for a plate. D begins to set the table. A then gets cups and counts ‘one, two, three, four’ to match the number of plates D has put on the table. D begins to add food to the table.

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On the couch in the dramatic play area, I notice K and M have begin to fidget and throw tantrums. I look over and realize they are imitating fussy babies ready to eat. I ask D and A what they are going to feed K and M. D brings over a banana and M throws it to the floor. D brings over a strawberry and hits it to the floor. D looks frustrated evidenced by her hands being thrown up in the air. She walks away and does not offer any more options. I ask D if she can feed the babies. D brings over a cup and K begins to drink. M begins to ‘waaah’ like a real baby. A lays him down and wraps him up in a blanket. M pretends to ‘sleep’. K wakes him up and they begin to fuss like babies again. Both K and M wave their hands and kick their feet and ‘waaah’ convincingly.

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In the video segment, Communicating with Young Children, Lisa Kolbeck states ‘children have a play being and a real being’ and ‘how fast the adult world moves, and how noisy it is…. and how important it is for the adults to slow children’s play down. Kolbeck works to be receptive to what the children say and not jump in and take words out of their mouths (Laureate Education, 2011). As I observed the children play, I did not want to assume, so I did ask K and M if they were indeed babies. Instead of answering, M nodded affirmatively, though he can speak. He completely stayed in character. Lisa Kolbeck shares some children do not typically stick with one play idea but she could count on the child Luna in her classroom to do that. I was encouraged to see how well K and M stuck with the fussy baby concept.

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I want to be more aware of children’s play like I was able to be with this group of children. I often don’t get the opportunity to do that because most days the children require a great deal of emotional support during free choice time. This was a rather interesting combination of children observed in this play because D is typically loud and unruly; A always wants to control play; M and K are boys but neither are disorderly or brash. They played quite well together.

 

Reference

Laureate Education, Inc. (2011). Strategies for working with diverse children: Communicating with young children. Baltimore, MD: Author

 

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Affirming Environments: Envisioning Lateve’s SSMART* Family Child Care Home (*Science, Social Studies, Math, Art, Reading and Technology)

Anti-bias curriculum should be grounded in a developmental approach as children’s perspectives are considered. Teachers learn about children’s perspectives by the questions children ask, what children already know and as they understanding what children are saying. Implementing such curriculum requires teachers to be sensitive and respectful of children’s individuality (Derman-Sparks & Olsen-Edwards, 2010).
Adriana Castillo gives a guided tour of her family child care home, Casa de Aprendizaje (House of Learning), which represents an intentional approach to anti-bias learning and community building and offers insights on how to create a physical setting that cultivates ABE (Laureate Education, 2011a).

In this scenario, I welcome you to Lateve’s SSMART* Family Child Care Home (L*FCCH), a stem-grant funded early childhood program, with many of the elements featured in Casa de Aprendizaje.

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Derman-Sparks & Olsen-Edwards (2010) share that the materials and people resources in the classroom provide children with important data showing children what is and is not important: therefore, in L*FCCH, children see images of children from various backgrounds, genders and varying abilities participating in each of the respective disciplines associated with the program—science, social studies, math, art, reading and technology—as well as images of important individuals associated with those disciplines changed out monthly based on awareness. For example, it is now November and the poster in the Reading Center has been changed to a photo of Dianne de Las Casas, award-winning author, storyteller, and founder of Picture Book Month —

Picture Book Month shares a teaching guide designed to help teachers integrate picture books into English language arts (ELA), mathematics, science, and social studies curricula. Art and drama are encouraged throughout the guide and all activities are created in conjunction with relevant content standards in ELA, math, science, and social studies. This will help SSMART support children’s school readiness.

Families are welcomed into the program in the social studies area which features photos of the children and their families arranged on a flower which also supports math (seven circles), science (botany) and self awareness.  Photos can be changed and arranged as children and families desire.

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A sentence strip features words or sayings children about the photos. Adriana Castillo shares how separating from parents and guardians in the morning can be difficult for the children and ‘especially the mommies’. In the social studies area, children play with culturally diverse dolls; dramatic play materials and props. Families sign in and out from this space and can take time to discuss how the children’s time was spent after leaving the program the day the before. A pictorial schedule supports the daily routine by giving children a visual reference of daily activities and parents a concrete way of knowing what their children will participate in each day throughout the week.

As a stem-funded program, children engage developmentally appropriate materials in these disciplines in creative ways that additionally build language and literacy skills. Therefore, each area is labeled with signs and pictures of children using the materials in the areas; and literature explaining concepts practiced in the areas. The newest favorites are the Baby University series of board books in the science area—General Relativity for Babies, Rocket Science for Babies and Quantum Physics for Babies—by father, physicist and mathematician Chris Ferrie.

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Further, my degree in education and reading; and training in early education continue to help children build on their language and literacy. Adriana uses music in her family child care home to soothe, calm and help children transition (Laureate Education, 2011a). Music (and the arts) is important to our family and this further made me think about Adriana’s comment on how the ‘best point to work in this field is to have the opportunity to be with my own children’ (Laureate Education, 2011a). My eldest son is a trumpeter and local musician.  My youngest son dabbles in violin and guitar; and is being taught pottery by a local artisan.  My middle son draws and is a local spoken word artist. Therefore, SSMART is a program that will use music and the arts to soothe, calm, transition, and support children’s natural curiosity in learning in the home and for field trip opportunities.

References

Derman-Sparks, L., & Olsen Edwards, J. (2010). Anti-bias education for young children and ourselves. Washington, D.C.: National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

Laureate Education, Inc. (2011a). Strategies for working with diverse children: Welcome to an anti-bias learning community. Baltimore, MD: Author

Neary, Lynn. Something new for baby to chew on: rocket science and quantum physics. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2017/07/06/535732200/something-new-for-baby-to-chew-on-rocket-science-and-quantum-physics

Picture Book Month. (2017). Media: November picture book month: A celebration! Retrieved from http://picturebookmonth.com/media/

 

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Evaluating Impacts on Professional Practice (-isms)

 

I work in a Head Start center.  24976805331_9b39180eab_bLaunched in 1965 by its creator and first director Jule Sugarman, Head Start was originally conceived as a catch-up summer school program that would teach low-income children in a few weeks what they needed to know to start elementary school.  The program continues this vision of supporting low income children and their families with early education and social services such as food assistance, utility bill services and health services.  Head Start families experience racism (90% of the families identify as African American), classism (poverty or below poverty) and hylicism (materialism) while I experience racism and classism. I am an African American woman that “sounds white” though I often require food from food banks and family assistance to make ends meet despite working full time hours.

This year, despite Head Start’s mission to support low income families, 80% of the classroom of children I teach are above the poverty level due to regulations that allow for 10% of the spaces in the program to be allotted for over income children. In the last month, I have witnessed many of the children come to school wearing new shoes almost daily.  I made mentioned of this to another coworker who responding, “now you know it’s tax refund season” indicating we would see more and more of the children center wide wearing new clothing, shoes and hairstyles even among the parents.

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But  before school year end, the same families will once again need assistance with their utilities, gas to bring their children to the center and/or food assistance.

Our center benefits from food donations from a local nonprofit.  When teachers are allowed to select items before the families we serve, the families sometimes look at us sideways as if we are taking food from them. There have been numerous times that if I had not received those donations, I would not have had dinner on the table some nights.