Celebrating various traditions, cultures, and customs in Green Vale’s Early Childhood program allows children to embrace differences, cultivate empathy, and recognize the interconnectedness of humanity—granting them a unique global perspective. By immersing themselves in different cultural experiences, they gain a global outlook, learning to navigate a diverse world with sensitivity and open-mindedness. Teaching cultural appreciation at an early age lays the foundation for a generation capable of embracing and valuing the uniqueness of individuals and societies worldwide, contributing to a more harmonious and interconnected global community.
"Learning about a world outside of ourselves, is a challenging, yet necessary part of Early Childhood development," said Green Vale’s Pre-K teacher, Jennifer Milillo. "Young children are innately egocentric. They contemplate the world only from their personal perspective."
Through Green Vale’s Global Kids initiative, Pre-K children are engaged in meaningful literature, reveling in celebrations of children, cultures, traditions, music, foods, and holidays from around the world. These opportunities offer children not only a reflection but also a window into lives vastly different from their own. Tailored to their developmental stage, this program provides a global perspective, fostering an understanding of children worldwide and within our communities.
Homa Sabet Tavangar, a renowned author and speaker specializing in global citizenship, collaborated with GVS teachers to cultivate a culture that embraces global competencies. Tavangar's Global Kids Cards provide hands-on activities to teach children about crafts, food, games, festivals and ways of helping others around the world. These resources enhance the depth of their explorations, enriching the educational experience for both educators and students alike.
"We always open each lesson with an exploration of the world map, which truly captivates the children," shared Milillo. "It helps them grasp that children live all over the world, leading to discussions about similarities and differences in their lives. The map also serves as a springboard for our cultural explorations."
Below are some compelling examples of how GVS Global Kids celebrates diverse cultures worldwide, imparting knowledge through age-appropriate activities that spark insightful discussions, broadening young minds beyond their immediate surroundings.
Guatemalan Worry Dolls
The children read "Pepe and the Parade" by Tracey Kyle, a children's book that revolves around a young boy named Pepe who worries that he will not be able to participate in a parade when he realizes he doesn't have a costume for the event. Drawing inspiration from the story, the children made Worry Dolls, also known as trouble dolls or muñecas quitapenas, which are a traditional craft originating from Guatemala and other parts of Central America. According to Guatemalan folklore, these tiny dolls have the power to take away worries and anxieties when placed under a pillow at night.
Diwali - The Festival of Lights
Through the story "Let’s Celebrate Diwali" by Anjali Joshi, the class learned about the significance of light triumphing over darkness and shared experiences related to the celebration. After attending a Diwali assembly and watching a traditional dance by a fellow student, the children were inspired to recreate a Diwali celebration in class. They crafted clay diyas and hosted a feast adorned with diyas, symbolizing the festival's spirit.
A Turkish Tradition - Apple Tea for Hospitality and Friendship
Exploring a tradition from Istanbul, Turkey, the class sipped on Apple Tea while discovering Turkey on the map. Mrs. Milillo shared her experiences at The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, enhancing the cultural connection for the children.
Instructions: Boil apples and cinnamon in water, let cool, and enjoy!
Native Americans and Bead Making
The class read "I Am a Story" by Dan Vaccarino—a powerful book that celebrates the timeless nature of stories and their impact on human lives through its engaging illustrations and simple yet profound narrative. The book served as a foundation for the understanding that storytelling comes in various forms beyond words and the importance of preserving and sharing narratives. Using this story as a catalyst, the class seamlessly transitioned into exploring how Indigenous communities use beadwork as a form of storytelling. This inspired them to create clay beads, paint them, and make necklaces, which were worn during the Early Childhood Friendsgiving event.
Learning about Kwanzaa
Honoring African heritage and culture, the class discussed the 7 Principles of Kwanzaa: Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith). As a hands-on activity, the students collaboratively crafted a Communal Mkeka Mat, a symbolic piece central to Kwanzaa celebrations. This mat was adorned with a basket of First Fruits of the Harvest, a Unity Goblet, and corn to show appreciation for their crops, their sense of community, and their hope for the future.
Embracing Cultures Through Parent Involvement
A warm invitation is extended to parents from all cultural heritages to share their rich traditions and customs with the school community. Through these engaging visits, parents have the opportunity to offer unique insights into their heritage, traditions, and values. These interactions enrich students' understanding of the world.
By providing an age-appropriate platform of cultural exploration and understanding, Green Vale's Global Kids program stands as a testament to the profound impact that celebrating cultural varieties at a young age can have. Through literature, immersive experiences, and hands-on activities, young minds are not merely learning about the world—they're embracing it.
Our dedicated educators at GVS are nurturing a generation that cherishes differences, fosters empathy, and navigates the global landscape with a profound sense of appreciation and open-mindedness. As these children embark on their journey through education and beyond, they carry with them the invaluable gift of a broadened perspective—an enduring legacy that propels us towards a more harmonious, interconnected, and compassionate global community.