Diverse Cultural Perspectives, Traditions, Celebrations
We teach the power of our “roots” that each of us has and empower the children to explore their backgrounds. The cultures explored depends on the children present each school year. We explore race, family backgrounds, elders, vegetarians, faith, etc. The families are encouraged to share their food, music, perspectives, holidays, beliefs, clothing, etc. with the class. The children learn how every holiday is linked to a culture, whether it is Native Americans, Europeans, Africans. The children begin to see how all of us are different, while at the same time have many similarities.
By validating the children’s whole presence in the classroom, providing multiple perspectives and understanding of differences, the children are taught tolerance, compassion and a true respect for others who may be different than one’s self. This minimizes the fear that comes along with the of another.
Roots and fruits provides hands-on tools to empower young children to undo stereotypes, build relationships across differences, and be young activists. The children are encouraged daily to ask questions, explore differences between themselves, teachers, etc,. A safe space is created for children to honor and speak their fears, while also learning how similar we all are as humans on this planet.
The children are also taught about their interconnectedness with each other and the natural world/animals around them. They learn about the power of taking care of the earth through hugging a tree or recycling. Children begin to see that creating peace begins with one’s self and emanates out into their school community through their choices.
The children engage in a morning meditation, learning various chants and songs from around the world. This quiet time teaches the children how to calm their bodies, take deep breathes, and relax. This daily ritual helps children manage their emotions, frustration, sadness, anger, etc., throughout the day to gain balance and find peace within them.
Through healthy snacks of fruits, veggies, crackers, cheese, and minimal sugar, the children learn about the power of food and its impact on their body. Children bring their own lunches, but if there are any sugary treats they are encouraged to eat it after naptime (if they stay all day), where they can run outside and allow their bodies to respond to the sugar effectively.
Roots & Fruits classroom is laid out based on Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences. There are various centers that honor the children’s ways of communicating their thoughts, emotions, and ideas with the world, such as – a logical area of blocks, music area, linguistic area of books & writing, a house area of drama/bodily kinesthetic activities, a visual arts area, an outdoor yard to foster the naturalists, a quiet/calming area to validate the existential aspects, and numerous opportunities for the kids to play alone or with others. The children begin to learn what they are really good at and support their friends in areas that are more challenging.
Roots & Fruits focuses on positive reinforcement for behavior that models kindness, compassion, empathy, sharing, and peace. Through a community kindness jar, the children receive kindness chips throughout the day for the various acts of kindness (sharing a toy, inviting others to play, helping a child with a task, standing up for a child who is hurt, etc.) Once the jar is filled the entire class receives a game or other item for the school. This empowers the children to actively create a school climate of positive energy and kindness.
When children have made an unkind choice (hitting another child, leaving someone out, etc.) the children are asked to take a break and have a time-in with a teacher to discuss their choice. They are empowered to check – in with the child they hurt and make sure they are o.k. This teaches them empathy and the power of their actions and words upon another being.