First, I’d like to remind us all that we are all different and that is ok. As a Nursery ILA (Inclusive Learning Assistant) this is what I tell my students on a daily basis. Teaching four year olds about social rules in the middle of a pandemic can be a little bit challenging, so we always come back to this phrase. As creatures of habit coming into Nursery, students can get a little overwhelmed with so many changes and realizing that not everyone likes the same things, and not everyone thinks or learns in the same way. So, when kids start questioning their peers' likes and dislikes, even if we are discussing our favorite color, we as teachers remind them that it is ok to be unique. While calming their anxiety to this new experience, we offer comfort and a warm welcome to everybody´s differences.
The thing is, we can not let this end in preschool, where their innocence is still a blessing. Because as our students grow, our culture teaches them to fit in instead of stand out, making them feel ashamed about the things that make them unique. But what if we keep reminding them that it is ok to be different? Children will learn to accept not only their friends but also themselves, preparing themselves for the real world.
It is a big step, as said before, since we are creatures of habit, so asking for a change like this means getting outside of our comfort zones. So, simply ask yourselves, what will happen if we teach our students to respect everybody's differences and appreciate them, rather than ask them to fit in? Because remember, we are all different, and that is ok.
Nursery Inclusive Learning Assistant