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.

Image result for andi mack

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.



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/




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.

See the source image







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.

See the source image


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



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.

See the source image

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.


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.


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/



Reflecting on Learning


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.


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!


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/



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.


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.


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.


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.



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



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.


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.


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.


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.


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/



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.


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.




Evaluating Impacts on Professional Practice

I have experienced classicism at my job which is an interesting thing to experience when you work with culturally diverse families in a program designed to combat poverty and encourage self sufficiency.


Some background…..

I am a married woman with three sons, a daughter (who currently all live at home) and possess three degrees.  I have been in the early care and education workforce since 2000.  However, my family’s annual income falls between two figures for a family of 5–

100% Federal Poverty Level Minimum to Qualify for ACA Assistance
138% FPL MedicaidCap (in States that Expanded)


When the 2015-2016 school year began, I was struggling to keep finances afloat as that my husband had become disabled. By the second semester, the water company had turned our water services off due to nonpayment. My director at work learned that my water had been turned off via the coworker I had confided in who told her. My coworker truly thought she was helping not knowing the director and I had professional differences. Unbeknownst to me, the director asked other coworkers to donate funds to assist me with getting my water services restored and presented me the funds after questioning me about what was going on.  I was stunned and initially refused to accept the funds. My director refused to let me go until I had. I was grateful but continued to feel challenged about the monies because I know that my hourly wage is higher than most of the staff due to having an advanced degree in education.  Yet, because we are laid off from the second week in May until the second week of August, that higher wage does not benefit me overall.

Later that same week of this incident, I brought a gift bag filled with some diapers, wipes, a onesie and baby bath for a friend who had invited me to her baby shower that previous weekend but could not attend because my car had broken down. The gifts and bag had come from Dollar Tree–a total $5 gift. I learned that the director was upset that I had purchased a baby shower gift for a friend because I had no water in my home and talked about the fact to other coworkers. I was floored because I had neither asked for funds from her or any other person at work.  I only confided in said coworker as a means of release. It was a clear lesson to never bring home issues to work.

Since this encounter, anytime I have a transition of any type–drive a different car to work, wear a different hairstyle or new pair of shoes–I get different looks and/or interrogated.  Little do my coworkers really know that my food comes mainly from local food banks and the food pantry at my church because I do not qualify for food stamps. When I drive a “different car”, it’s because my car was repossessed or is broken down. The “different car” usually belongs to my father in law who allows me usage until we can find a car of our own.  Student loans have me so far in debt that my debt to income ratio is too high for car companies to take the chance financially to loan to me at a lower interest rate. Hoping and praying  that all changes after completing this degree.cujfzw_xgaabjeoHow it must feel for the families we work with and for every day who qualify for the services we offer due to their incomes not just low but AT or BELOW federal poverty levels?    My personal experiences give me a better perspective of what it means to be poor in America today.  I am educated, married, African American and am one of the working poverty.The poverty rate for all persons masks considerable variation between racial/ethnic subgroups. Poverty rates for blacks and Hispanics greatly exceed the national average. In 2014, 26.2 percent of blacks and 23.6 percent of Hispanics were poor, compared to 10.1 percent of non-Hispanic whites and 12 percent of Asians. Poverty rates are highest for families headed by single women, particularly if they are black or Hispanic. In 2014, 30.6 percent of households headed by single women were poor, while 15.7 percent of households headed by single men and 6.2 percent of married-couple households lived in poverty.

Think of how families feel about current government shifts? 

We have a new Congress and president, who are moving to repeal the Affordable Care Act with a unknown replacement. The new president has signed an executive order to weaken the individual mandate which funds the ACA. This throws 18 million people off health care coverage if there is no replacement. Two other programs Congress is going after are the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly food stamps, and Medicaid for low-income Americans.  There are 43 million people who live below the poverty line and are food insecure, including 13 million children. Many people work hard and are still not making it. There is a dominant belief in our society that if one works hard enough they will do well. According to the recent census, two-thirds of people living in poverty are working 1.7 jobs. I am in this category as that in addition to working with Head Start, I tutor an average of three afternoons (4p to 630p) for two national companies. Experiencing poverty makes me educate myself about poverty to better learn how to work and care for the families with which I interact.


Understanding the Federal Poverty Guidelines for Determining Cost Assistance on Plans Active in 2017. 

Poverty in the United States Frequently Asked Questions

Fearful of losing aid programs

Education Students Who Live in Poverty


Observing Communication

quote-we-get-strength-and-encouragement-from-watching-children-hayao-miyazaki-85-9-0985This week I had the pleasure of observing fathers and their children interact with one another during the Spring Fling/Fatherhood Initiative Day held yesterday at the Head Start center where I work. I focused my attention on one particular father and child team, K and K Sr. K is a three year old boy in my classroom who I noticed early on in the program learns best when he is ‘doing’.  He is academically on the level of the four year olds (PreK) in the classroom but socially he is more along the lines of a two year old. He cries, runs and hides under tables and chairs; or sits near a far away gate on the playground when upset.  He is typically inconsolable during those times and often it becomes necessary for a teacher to just sit near him because those watching the cameras in the central office location call back to the center when they see him sitting alone.  (I often wonder why they never call when they see him hitting, pushing children and completing flips across the carpet during my circle time! Another conversation for another time.) K uses his ‘whole body to communicate’ as director of Little School of Family Childcare Lisa Kolbeck shares in this week’s video resource (Laureate Education, 2011).

On Spring Fling/Fatherhood Initiative Day, K’s mom brought him in and informed me that K, Sr (senior). would be coming to the center around 10am when our class was on the playground.  Our classroom of children and parents move to the playground after breakfast (930am). When K, Sr. arrived at 10am, K ran right to him at which point K, Sr. picked K up, holding him high into the air before returning him back to the ground.  K, Sr. then began tossing a soft football to K that he had found near the spot he was standing.  After a few rounds of tossing, K runs off to get a soccer ball.  K runs and runs around with the ball. K, Sr. stands stationary in the same space he had been tossing the football back and forth with K. After about ten minutes, K takes the soccer ball to K, Sr. It was hard to notice K, Sr’s expressions as that he wore wide sunglasses and stood with arms folded during the time that K was running around.  K and K, Sr. kicked the soccer ball a few rounds with K always retrieving. K, Sr. did not interact with the other fathers or K’s classmates.  At one point, K’s father left the playground and K ran after him.  I heard another teacher on the playground call for K who was on the other side of what was a locked fence before K’s father went through it.  I ran after K and he took off running near another open fence which led to the parking lot and nearby road.  I called for K to come back but he continued running and crying.  I then noticed K’s father come from around the corner of the building that houses the cafeteria.  I told K, Sr. that K had begun to run after him through the fence that we typically keep lock. K’s father said, “oh, I’m sorry buddy.  I was just gone for a minute. I was coming back.”  By now I had picked K up who was now sobbing with his face in my shoulder.  K, Sr. took him from me and stated, ‘he was sorry’ as he walked past me back towards the playground. I followed behind them.

After another 30 minutes on the playground, a child took a soccer ball from K as he ran around. K’s father had walked to another part of the playground as that K’s sister’s classroom was also on the playground, too. (It was K’s sister’s teacher that had called for K to come back from the gate.)   K looked for dad but when he did not see him, K ran over to a section of gate crying and sat down.  I walked over to K and sat down with him trying to reassure him.  K continued to cry.  I asked him if he wanted to get another ball. K stood up and nodded yes then ran off.


Like the quote that opens this blog, I indeed gained strength and encouragement from watching K and his father.  I gained strength in knowing that K communicates with the adults that care for him in his life in much the same way.  K cries and hides– inwardly in his own head or under a table/chair–until he manages to gain the attention or consolation that will satisfy his needs in a timeframe that is sufficient for him.  I do not ignore K’s cries in the classroom nor did I ignore them that day despite his father being present.  It’s all about creating that safe space to play like Lisa Kolbeck states (Laureate, 2011) even when play causes an emotional response when feelings get hurt.


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


Paisley B13 Peddlers

Spring time is a great time to walk, rally or march in support of autoimmune disease awareness such as thyroid disorders. Consider supporting the Paisley B13 Peddlers reach their funding goal towards awareness.

paisley butterfly 13


Bingo! You have arrived! I am excited to be supporting AARDA’S Autoimmune Walk. More than 50 million Americans suffer from autoimmune diseases of which thyroid diseases are. That’s 1 out of every 6 people in the US! The Autoimmune Walk is one of AARDA’s efforts to bring together families impacted by autoimmune disease to raise much-needed funding and awareness… Because together we can accomplish far more than any of us can on our own.

Please register to walk with me OR make a donation to help me reach my goal!


When we link together, we are stronger! When we link together, a cure is closer!

View original post