JELA students “Seek To Understand” as part of BHM

The ideas and stories surrounding Black History Month and the linage of influential African-Americans in our history are big topics. At the Johnston Early Learning Academy, director Joy Palmer and the team of teachers thought about ways to break down these big topics to better fit the minds of our youngest learners.

Camp BHM Reading

JELA preschool teacher Gretchen Camp reads “The Skin You Live In” to her students.

The Johnston Early Learning Academy uses the Leader in Me, a youth leadership program based on Stephen R. Covey’s 7 Habits. The February Leader in Me Habit of the Month is “First Seek to Understand,” teaching students to truly listen to what others are saying before they respond or react to the conversation.

Listening to understand can be more than speech. JELA preschool teachers and staff integrate music, movement, literacy and social emotional lessons around the theme of Black History month to help preschoolers learn about others and what makes everyone unique.

In Gretchen Camp’s four year-old preschool class, students first watched a short clip of Sesame Street favorite Elmo and actress Whoopi Goldberg talk about skin, hair, and fur – and why each of those exterior characteristics “fits” the person to whom it belongs.

In classic preschooler conversation, kids talked about their own skin, eye, and hair color (among other personal features) and then enjoyed a book, “The Skin You Live In,” by Michael Tyler. From eye glasses to freckles, students first heard about what makes each person special, then celebrated it with one another.