As we settle into the new school year there are many exciting happenings on the social front. Our younger students from last year have stepped into their new roles as leaders and mentors. Friendships, both old and new, are evolving each day. One goal I have as I delve into the year with our vibrant group of students is to promote an inclusive environment that embraces diversity. With that in mind, I have recently enlisted the help of ‘Elmer’, the Patchwork Elephant. In this classic children’s book by David McKee, a unique patchwork elephant struggles to fit in with the other elephants in the jungle. ‘Elmer’s friends choose to accept ‘Elmer’s differences by painting themselves in an array of colors and patterns to help him feel better. ‘Elmer’, however, paints himself gray. This playful story parallels many of the social scenarios observed in our classroom as the children begin to recognize each others differences and unique qualities.
This story of ‘Elmer’ has provided an excellent springboard for discussion with the preschoolers about topics relevant to their current social development. Some of the conversations that arose from the readings focused on the question, “What does it feel like to be different or left out”. The answers from the children unanimously came up as “bad”, “sad” and “lonely”. In our lively classroom, these feelings come up regularly as we navigate the social waters together. I welcome each opportunity I have to work alongside the children as they hurdle the obstacles that arise. Through informal discussions and projects related to ‘Elmer’ over the course of the next few weeks I hope to forge deeper connections among the children while honoring one of the Bixby core values, to instill empathy.
Preschool: Teacher; Billing Specialist