The Kidzrus ethos is “Every Child – Every Chance!” and as an outstanding provider we hold equality, diversity and inclusion at the epicentre of our being and as part of our everyday practice. To celebrate LGBT History Month our teams participated in lots of professional development.
Nicola Fleury, Gemma Fletcher and myself were fortunate enough to participate in the LGBTQIA+ Early Years magazine launch hosted on Zoom by Aaron Bradbury from lgbtearlyyears.org. From the very start it was obvious that Aaron was passionate about better representation of diverse family groups and about supporting children and parents so that they are more visible and their voices heard.
The first edition of the magazine is the result of many long hours input by the steering group; each member equally as passionate in their belief that the different formats of family life should be celebrated. It’s articles don’t preach “what to do” and they alongside Aaron’s inspiring welcome to the event confirmed that the magazine aims to promote, showcase and create confidence via discussion with staff, children, families and the wider community via informed research and improved practice. We have copies of the magazine available to our colleagues to peruse and registered to obtain resources for activities with our children going forward. Lucy Rae, as author of Stonewall’s Getting Started Toolkit for Early Years published in December 2017 has provided us with an invaluable resource to address the issue and meet the demands of our children and families with clarity and confidence.
Alongside Kati Osborne, Manager at our Irlam setting I attended Nursery World Live webinar “Creating flexible and responsive learning environments” led by Adventures with Alice. Kati also participated in Alice’s webinar “ We are diverse and different “. The Childcare and Education Virtual Summit covered “What makes an Inclusive Setting?” and “Celebrating Diversity”, each giving us a variety of insights into the worlds that our cohort children and their families live in, as well as suggesting approaches and resources that will take us further down the road of inclusivity.
Our team deliver loads of fun and interactive activities focusing on equality, diversity and inclusion all year round. For LGBT History Month they focused on the theme “What makes us different?” so that the children could distinguish similarities and differences in themselves and their families and from others across all of the protected characteristics of the Equality and Diversity Act 2010 and all learning areas. They used some of the great ideas suggested by lgbtqearlyyears.org and stonewall.org “Getting Started” toolkit for inspiration.
So, what exactly did they get up to?
They improved literacy, language and communication skills and incorporated PSED by reading key books such as “The Girl with Two Dads”. This book focuses on Matilda, a new girl at Pearl’s school, but there’s something really different and cool about her family – she has TWO dads! Pearl is sure that Matilda’s family must be very different to her own but, as they become friends, she starts to discover that maybe Matilda’s family aren’t so different after all.
The children enjoyed “Daddy, Papa and Me, a book about a toddler spending the day with its daddies. From hide-and-seek to dress-up, then bath time and a kiss goodnight, there’s no limit to what a loving family can do together.
The children also read “Heather has Two Mummies” Heather’s favorite number is two. She has two arms, two legs, two pets–and two mommies. When Heather goes to school for the first time, someone asks her about her daddy, but Heather doesn’t have a daddy. Then something interesting happens. When Heather and her classmates all draw pictures of their families, not one drawing is the same.
“And Tango Makes Three” is a heart-warming true story of two penguins who create a non-traditional family. At the penguin house at the Central Park Zoo, two penguins named Roy and Silo were a little bit different from the others. But their desire for a family was the same. And with the help of a kindly zookeeper, Roy and Silo got the chance to welcome a baby penguin of their very own.
Our children discovered that Having Two Dads is double the fun! Many families are different… this family has Two Dads. Practitioners in each setting read this beautifully illustrated, affirming story of life with Two Dads, written from the perspective of their adopted child. It’s heart-warming illustrations and delightful rhymes to celebrate the beauty found in all kinds of families — particularly those on the LGBT spectrum.
They loved King and King; a funny, tender, beautifully illustrated story with a different kind of fairy tale ending. The Crown Kitty and Friends Cordially Invite You to Celebrate a Royal Wedding… Reception to follow in the Royal Gardens … Bring Lots of Presents! On a mountain high above town, young Prince Bertie lives with his mother. Tired of being Queen, she is desperate to find Bertie a princess to marry so he can inherit the throne, so she scours the world, from Greenland to Mumbai, looking for a suitable bride but all Bertie says is “I’ve never cared much for princesses”. It seems like the Queen is never going to find a suitable match for Bertie and then Princess Madeleine pays the court a visit, accompanied by her brother, Prince Lee. Has Bertie finally met his match?
These funny and heart-warming tales featuring same-sex parent families allowed our team to facilitate discussion and encourage the children to be open minded and inclusive. After all, they are charming tales of friendship; all about celebrating what makes us different and similar to one another and sharing the loving bond between same-sex parents and their children.
These books are just a sample of the range available to our children and their parents all year round, as we advocate a continued inclusive and reflective approach to teaching and learning.
The children were able to reflect about the diversity of themselves and their families and what makes us special. They told us that “We’ve got different colour skin”, “He’s got blue eyes and mine are green”, “She can run faster than me”, “I’ve got two Mummies – I’ve got Mummy and Mama!” “I’ve only got a Mummy – I don’t have a Daddy!” and “I’ve got a Mummy, a Daddy and a big sister!”.
As well as reading and talking about families the children also learned about the different homes that they live in – from terraced houses to flats and everything else in-between. They told us that they live with Daddy part of the week and Mummy at other times, that some have brothers and sisters and some have none, and one of our children became a big sister. She told us that “Mummy is still in hospital with my new baby brother and he has brown hair”. She was able to read a great book about being a big sister and was excited to bring him home.
The children explored and investigated using tuff trays, sorting different words and colours; incorporating number, measure, shape and size using sequence and critical thinking and then shared information about their homes and gardens as well as the special people and pets that they live with.
They drew and painted great works of art using the many colours of the rainbow, played musical instruments and sang and danced to well-known songs such as “I can sing a rainbow”. They even told their own stories and made up songs that were relevant to their unique peer groups that were both fun and informative, proving that sometimes we are similar and other times we are different.
Food plays a great part in our children’s healthy learning journey and we encourage them to try new foods and tastes. Our children enjoyed a wide selection of brightly coloured and tasty food prepared by our amazing nursery cooks. This allowed them to try different fruits and vegetables and talk about the various colours, shapes and tastes; and what they liked. They also read Luca the Lion about a lion who couldn’t eat meat. The book talks about how some children cannot eat certain foods, how we are all different and what happens to Luca when he eats meat. From this the children were able to become aware of allergies and understand the impact should they eat the wrong foods.
Our amazing team of practitioners were also able to incorporate different faiths and celebrations along the theme “What makes us different?” by celebrating Shrove Tuesday. The children made pancakes and decorated them with toppings of their choice then and ate them at breakneck speed!
We also celebrated International Mother Language Day and were able to highlight that we all speak different languages and come from different cultures. This was a really great way for the children to take pride in being unique and share with us information about their wider families and communities.
To round the month off in style our children held Rainbow Parties in the garden with party food including rainbow pittas, pasta, pittas, cake and fruit platters. They sang tunes and danced the afternoon away. Manchester Road Forest School even included the chickens, collected their eggs and talked about where they lived and what food they ate. The children wore rainbow coloured clothes, painted their faces and shared a special time together celebrating and embracing diversity. They didn’t know they were learning and making memories… they thought they were just having fun!
Darren Matthews BA (Hons), MA (Hons), PGCE
Quality Manager (Teaching, Learning and Staff Development)