Our theme for the week last week was "Black History." The children were busy learning about famous and important people such as Rosa Parks, Dr. King, and Barack Obama to mention a few.
Our kindergarten class gets especially "into" this week, as they love learning about history, and especially the "old days" when Ms. Sally was a little girl! Sally shares many experiences when them of when she was little and how hard it was for her growing up during a time when her nanny, who was African American, often couldn't join her family in certain establishments, especially in the South, where Ms. Sally's family kept a home.
It is a very, very moving thing to go into that classroom and watch the Q&A that Sally has with those children as they learn about a time in history, not so distant, that seems so surreal to them now. Many of them point out that our skin is "just for protection" and color doesn't matter. Some of them will say things like "Germs are just germs...it doesn't matter who's sharing our bathrooms." If only children could govern our world, I honestly believe sometimes we would be better off!
One of the best lessons shared in kindergarten is that of Rosa Parks. The children love hearing her story of determination and bravery. They love looking at books about her and then learning about the way she stood up for herself and an entire race of people. Many conversations come from that lesson, and excitement grows in the classroom as they continue to learn about Ms. Parks and then about Dr. King. Finally, while I was in there listening one morning, I said to them, "Do you realize how lucky you are to be alive during the time when you can say you saw the first black President elected into our White House?" They were ECSTATIC! They realized they were a part of history...and it was AWESOME!
This morning, I was walking the hallways, and I stopped to read some of the writer's workshop on the blue room bulletin boards. A question had been posed to them: "What would you have done if you have been on the bus with Rosa Parks?"
Here are some of the most common answers I saw:
"I would have given my seat up for Rosa Parks."
"I would tell Rosa Parks to keep her seat."
"I would have asked Rosa Parks to give up her seat." (no ill will here, I believe, just that in their five year old minds, they were thinking they would have wanted to sit down!)
I looked on down the board and saw that one little boy and one little girl had answered with the following:
"I would have sat down in the seat with her."
My eyes teared up and my heart overflowed. Numbers are good...Reading is great...but THIS is what we want our friends to learn in kindergarten at Little Explorers...compassion, love, understanding, and friendship.