How we celebrate the MLK Jr. holiday
By Chloe Learey, Executive Director
When my children attended the Early Learning Center in the early 2000s the organization was open for business as usual on MLK Day. This was a treat as a parent who had a holiday from work, a chance to get stuff done.
After I became director, it occurred to me that, if we were going to be open, MLK Day was an opportunity for us to reflect about the importance of civil rights, inclusion, diversity, and justice and how this is all part of our work. The earliest record I found for our MLK in-service is in 2012, so we have been doing it for over 10 years. We have watched and discussed movies, read parts of books, listened to TED talks and speeches, and spent time learning about ourselves in the context of white supremacist culture. with the intention of recognizing systemic oppression so that we can work against it in order to fulfill our mission.
The importance of taking this time to reflect has become clearer over the years as broader awareness and divisiveness have grown. We are operating in a dominant culture that places greater or lesser value on the characteristics that make us different – skin color, religion, class, ethnicity, sexual orientation, body type, gender, and many other traits. This differential valuation interferes with building healthy communities where everyone belongs and thrives, which in turn interferes with our work to support families and children to be successful. Understanding who we are and how we are showing up is essential to dismantling the damaging parts of our culture and building on those parts that help us connect.
We strive to embed this in our everyday work, not just during in-service. These opportunities to learn together help create shared language so that we can help each other in an on-going way. We can examine our practices from various angles such as “how does this perpetuate stereotypes” or “does this help us deepen relationship.” Our committee, Prouty Tackling White Supremacy (PTWS), was created in 2021 and has the mission to “….create space to name and dismantle white supremacist culture in our work so that our organization/community supports the success of all children and families” with the overarching goal to “create an organizational culture where everyone belongs (beloved community)”. Our in-service on MLK Day is one of the ways we accomplish this goal, knowing it is just one day and that this is everyday and forever work, and believing that we can transform the world through this work.
Resources & Events for families
New England Youth Theater hosts open house tonight!
Join the NEYT Mentors on Friday, January 12th, for the first ever NEYT Open House & Winter Carnival! A night of theatre games, face painting, holiday treats, and more! The Mentors will also be holding an interactive guided tour of our building. NEYT offers theater programming for children as young as 5, so if you’re ever been curious about NEYT, this is a perfect opportunity to explore it. 5:30pm-7:30pm at 100 Flat St.
How to Help Your Child Transition Smoothly Between Places and Activities
Backpack Series By Alyson Jiron, Brooke Brogle & Jill Giacomini
Transitioning, or moving, to new places, people and activities is something we do many times during the day. However, change can be overwhelming and seem unpredictable for your child, especially when she is not ready to move on to the next place or activity. Children make many transitions each day—from parents to teachers, from home to car, or from play time to the dinner table, for example. When and how often transitions occur are usually decided by an adult and children often act out with challenging behavior when they feel unable to control their routine. When you help your child prepare for transitions you are helping her to learn a valuable skill. The good news is that you can teach her this important skill while you are enjoying time together. Continue reading
Book Recommendations to celebrate MLK Day with young children
Chalk by Bill Thomas is wordless picture book following a creative adventure of three diverse friends at the park.
Yo! Yes? by Chris Raschka and Rain! by Linda Ashman and illustrated by Christian Robinson add the dimension of the power of kindness and the care of others.
Change Sings by Amanda Gorman and illustrated by Loren Long is a gorgeous depiction of the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King. Depending on the young child(ren) who this book is being shared with, Sueño will opt to tell a story of what is happening in the pictures instead of reading the words.
If you would like more information about selecting diverse children’s books or suggestions on how to talk about race with young children, visit Embrace Race.
Early Learning Center News
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We would love to get your feedback on our newsletter, the Prouty Voice. We hope this monthly newsletter that shares community events & resources, classroom updates & photos, and calendar reminders is useful to your family. If you do read the Voice, would you please let us know at this link? This short survey will help us improve, thank you!
December can be a very busy time of year. In the Acorn Room, we tried to keep routines the same and have things that are familiar to us. All the children gained new gross motor skills, from rolling easily and fluidly to pushing high up on arms when on their stomachs to getting into sitting position on their own to crawling! They really are amazing, and it is wonderful to celebrate each person’s accomplishments! We explored jingling bells and playing the drum, as well as playdough and curling ribbon. At the end of December, our friend, Owen officially moved to the Willow Room full time and our friend, Rhoda joined us in the Acorn Room.
This month we have continued to spend time outside. With the weather growing colder, we are finding the opportunity to continue to build on the self-help skills that the children have already developed, as they now have more to work on in the process of getting ready. They have been working to find their photos in the hallway, stay with the group, and get started on putting their own things on, one at a time. While this may not sound like a big deal to us as adults, for toddlers it’s a lot of work! We have continued to enjoy music, and mealtimes together, particularly Lila singing with their ukelele. Some favorite books this month have included “Hand hand Fingers Thumb”, “Dada, Papa and Me” and “Lola at the Library”. We expect that with the departure of our beloved teacher Kelsey there will be a few big feelings in the new year, but we trust that Willow children are resilient and will adjust to the new situation.
This month in the Elm Room, we started taking down some of the art on our wall after filling it, and starting again with a new theme: News paper and pages from books! We got our second round of snow the day before Thanksgiving and enjoyed our harvest meal with other classes and their families. Our room made sweet potato casserole and got to practice their cutting and mixing skills. Elm Room has taken an interest in shapes, and how they fit into other open objects. We have taken trips as a class to the sun bridge, where we see how many cars and trucks we can get to honk for us as they pass by. On one of our sunnier warmer days, we planted bulbs in the outdoor classroom garden, painted pumpkins, and took a trip into the woods to find “berry” the flamingo; who lives high up in a tree. We can’t wait to see what next month brings!
Now that we have firmly established our routines for the year in Cedar Room, our short month of December included lots creativity and fun. After the successful mac-and-cheese we made for Harvest Meal, the children have continued to show interest in baking. We made pesto pasta and challah bread, making for delicious contributions to our afternoon snacks. Watercolor painting has been a continued favorite activity, and we also introducing flower-pounding as a means for creating with color. In this activity, children were able to smash fresh flower petals onto fabric with mallets, allowing them to both create and make as much noise as they liked. We also went on several hikes through Prouty campus, including a big hike to “Mud City.” Lastly, we welcomed Abby Rusk as our new permanent teacher!
- January 2 – Happy Birthday Chloe, Executive Director!
- January 15 – Happy Birthday Steve, Facilities Manager!
- January 16 – Happy Birthday Teresa, Family Supportive Housing Coordinator!
- January 16 – Louisa is 5!
- January 21 – Happy Birthday Jasmine, Family Supportive Housing Supervisor!
- January 22 – Minerva is 1!
Dates to Remember
- Monday, January 15 – Center closed for in-service
- Friday, February 9 – Center closes at noon for in-service
- Saturday, February 10 – ELC Family Circle at 8:00am