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Promoting Diversity

Education Expert Advice from Peggy Gisler, Ed.S. and Marge Eberts, Ed.S.

Q: I live in a small, mostly white community. My daughter will begin kindergarten in a private Christian school with only one other black child. This child is in a higher grade. How can I reinforce the fact that she is as special as all the other children there? I do plan to volunteer and maintain frequent contact with her teacher. I may even volunteer for the first grade teacher as well, so that she knows my child and concerns. Do you have any other suggestions, books, or articles which may be of interest to me? Thank you for your time.

A: Because of the community where you live, we assume your child is already accustomed to playing with children of different ethnic backgrounds. If your daughter plays smoothly with other children, school should go quite well for her. At this age, the key to social success is being friendly, playing cooperatively with others, making good suggestions for play, knowing how to have fun, praising other children, and communicating well with peers.

Within the environment of a Christian school, we would certainly expect the teachers to foster warm and caring relationships among all the children and to help them learn how to show respect and love towards each other. When your child's teacher shows that she values all her students, they will regard each other positively. Children learn behavior more from their teachers' attitudes than what the teachers tell them to do.

Just like all parents of children entering kindergarten, you sound anxious. Try not to communicate this to your daughter as it may cause her to fear going to school. If you face this experience with confidence, your child will share your confidence. You have the right idea about volunteering and keeping in close contact with the teacher.

There are several things that you can do to make the start of school easier for your child. Read some "starting to school" books with your daughter and play school with her so she will know what to expect. If possible, visit the classroom and have her meet the teacher. It's also a good idea to let her play on the playground before school starts. One of the best ways to help her get off to a good start is to arrange for her to play with one or more of her future classmates. Then on the first day of school, she will feel comfortable in the classroom because she sees familiar faces.

You will find helpful information at these Web sites: National Network for Child Care and the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

More on: Expert Advice

Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


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