Goodstart Thurgoona shares tips on respectful responses to children noticing difference
Jennifer Lemon, Early Childhood Teacher (ECT) at Goodstart Thurgoona, has shared reflections and suggestions on inclusive practice on the occasion of the International Day of People with Disability.
The Thurgoona team was recognised with a high commendation in Goodstart’s national awards program for partnering with the family of a young girl with limb difference to help children learn about disability.
“Lexi has been coming here since she was in the toddler room,” Jennifer explained. “Because the children her own age have moved through each room with her, they’ve never really had any questions. They didn’t see her as different.”
As Lexi transitioned through the centre and started joining preschool children in another outdoor play space, the older children’s natural curiosity led to questions about her limb difference.
“They asked things like ‘Why doesn’t she have a hand?’ and ‘How does she do things?’ and, to begin with, I didn’t know how to answer those questions in a way that was respectful to Lexi, her disability, and to her family.”
Jennifer invited Lexi’s mum Tess to be a part of the learning process with the other children and she was more than happy to share their family’s experiences. Together, Tess, Jennifer and the Thurgoona team shared books about disabilities and created activities for children like putting a sock over one hand to understand what it might be like to have a limb difference when playing and in other everyday tasks.
“It’s natural for children to have questions about differences but we also wanted them to realise that what we think and say has an impact on others. Especially the older children who are preparing to transition to school,” Jennifer shared.
For Lexi and Tess, the learning experience has been so positive, not just to help the other children learn but to allow Lexi to embrace her difference. “This is a beautiful way to welcome curiosity and to empower one another to celebrate their differences,” Tess said.
Goodstart Thurgoona’s focus on inclusion and belonging has earned them a New South Wales Goodie Award and a National commendation for Making a Difference.
International Day of People with a Disability is held on 3 December each year and is aimed at increasing awareness, understanding, and celebrating the contribution of people with disability.
For more information about meaningful inclusion, please see here.
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