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History, Future, America and other big words for kids

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Lead from the Start: History, Future, America and other big words for kids

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

History, Future, America and other big words for kids

I spent all day in a workshop as part of a new Early Reading First grant funded by the U.S. Dept. of Ed. It is part of a comprehensive grant to support early literacy in 13 classrooms in my school system, all Head Start. In the training the presenter made a point about how researchers in the 1990's began to find that at-risk children who were able to read, even after pre-k experiences began to fall behind by third grade. One of the reasons given for this was students' lack of vocabulary and oral language experiences in preschool. Students who start with less words when they come to kindergarten are not able to understand enough words by the time they reach third grade in order to comprehend the words they read in content areas like science and history.

This struck a chord with me today because I realized that today and the rest of this week is a really amazing week to talk about new words with young children.

Some of the new words that might come up naturally, because of America's election of its first president of color, include those below. Please add some more words that your students brought up today in the comments section.

vote

America

history / historic

Africa

president

country

State
honor
grace
Leader
racism
future


These might be new words for young children and if addressed in developmentally appropriate ways powerful words that they can use for the rest of their lives.

My favorite word from this list is future. Many of my colleagues are African-American and if you don't spend time in the African-American community you might not feel the weight of what happened yesterday. One of my mentors, an African-American woman who has worked for Head Start since its inception mentioned that it was because of Martin Luther King Jr. that yesterday's election was possible.

Sitting in that room today, with a number of African American women, some of whom remember Dr. King's words in the first person, was an amazing experience. Today it felt like more than an important day, a historic day, an amazing experience. It was the fulfillment of a prophecy. Martin Luther King said,

I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
In a sense that happened yesterday. We may never erase the stain of slavery and racism from our country's flag but yesterday, we began to wash it in the river of history and see that its colors are even brighter than we thought.

1 Comments:

At 5:01 AM, Blogger The Social Reformer said...

history! was made...

 

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