Global Citizens is a universal preschool curriculum and set of resources that connects children ages three to five with their peers living in refugee camps.
Global Citizens, Little Pods: an Opportunity
Global Citizens, Little Pods is a 12-week program steeped in relationship building, participatory citizenship and community care that meets once a week and connects children in US Little Pods classrooms to their peers in refugee-led Little Ripples Ponds classrooms in eastern Chad. At this time we are moving to offer a FREE, online pilot program led by two teachers experienced in developmentally appropriate social activism, emergent curriculum and an anti-racist, anti-bias lens.
The program fosters mindful, empathetic and connected children who gain a sense of community, resilience and participation in a developmentally appropriate, trauma-informed environment with commitments to safety, voice/choice, peer support/collaboration, trustworthiness, and cultural humility.
Little Pods is developmentally appropriate for children 4-9 years of age and will run from February to May. We are excited to see new friendships created and old friendships strengthened in local Little Pods that ripple out beyond this experience.
Many students in the US will spend the Fall semester unable to attend their regular in-person school program. This creates challenges in meeting their mental health, learning and relational needs. Many local groups are creating “Learning Pods” with 5-7 children and one teacher. These Pods run the risk of not reflecting the diversity of the neighborhood which creates a wider gap in both educational opportunities and neighborhood connection.
While we cannot solve systemic inequalities in the educational realm for the Fall semester, iACT’s Global Citizens, Little Pods endeavors to fill a gap in local communities during these unprecedented times of challenge and opportunity. With so many hearts and minds open to the importance of equitable communities and mutual liberation during these unprecedented times, there is a window of opportunity. While we recognize the value of extracurricular activities such as the arts and sciences, we also recognize the importance of supporting children’s burgeoning sense of justice and empathy.
EXAMPLES OF ACTIVITIES AND THEMES
Where in the world do I live?
Where do new friends live?
Exploring the diversity of Africa.
What are my rights as a young person in this world?
What do homes in my community look like?
How do I celebrate my culture/background/community? Music, food, games, clothing?
How do we celebrate our wonderful differences and identities even when language barriers are present?
How can we explore our different school and family lives?
Where do our natural resources come from and do we all have easy access to them?
FORMING LITTLE PODS
Each Little Pod will intentionally be made up of 5-7 local children representing the diversity of their neighborhood. We are encouraging these online Little Pods to form across differences in identity to create a rich tapestry of lived experience within the Pod. Stacey Martino Rivera is available if you need support forming a Little Pod: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support for Intentional Pods:
Avoid creating a monocultural Pod. Be aware of your potential for preference and bias:
Who is missing and who is present from this Pod?
Is there an opportunity to have Pods expand friendships and deepen the sense of community?
Have you considered including a family that does not share your socioeconomic class?
Have you made an effort to ensure that your Pod reflects the depth of diversity within the greater Los Angeles Area.
Consider that most children of color have had an incident of feeling targeted at some point during their education. Be careful to not create a similar situation for them in the Pod by including more than one Black, Indigenous, Family of color.
Consider a Public/Private School Pod Partnership in your neighborhood that might create lasting relationships beyond the need for Pods.
MEET THE TEACHERS
Erin is the founder and lead teacher of one of Los Angeles’ only outdoor preschools based around social, environmental and community activism called iLA (Inspired Little Activists). Erin received her teaching degree from Wheelock College in Boston in 2003 and has been working in childcare and teaching preschool for a total of 14 years throughout Los Angeles. Thanks to her inspiring students, she started a 501c3 organization with her partner Robyn Pottorff called Vibes365 in 2015 which then lead to the creation of iLA. Erin has since been elected as an executive board member of the Hollywood United Neighborhood Council and has won awards such as the Wonder Woman of the Year for her council district in 2019 and Volunteer of the Year for the Center in Hollywood where she taught art classes to women experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles. Erin thrives on having open and very honest conversations with her young friends about so many issues we face in our world. Her students have learned to have an awareness of these issues and to face them with empathy, an open heart and an open mind while inspiring others, young and old, to do the same.
Global Citizens was created to meet requests by preschool and kindergarten teachers in the U.S. who wanted their children to connect with children attending Little Ripples, an early childhood education program that trains and employs refugee women to provide culturally inspired preschool education to improve the early development of refugee children exposed to conflict. After learning about the success of Little Ripples, teachers here in the U.S. knew it could impact the lives of their students, but needed a curriculum and packaged resources to effectively create the connection.
Global Citizens is a 4-week, 20 unit daily curriculum that can be used with and tailored to a diversity of preschool philosophies, including dual-immersion language programs and in-home preschool centers. Each day, the program begins with simple mindfulness and breathing exercises that Little Ripples students also participate in. Just as Little Ripples utilizes play-based and student-driven components, so does Global Citizens. Additionally, each daily lesson includes an objective, resources, and activities that teach students about themselves and the life of their refugee peers, while focusing on social-emotional development, language and literacy, language development, mathematics, science, performing arts, physical development, health, and history/social science.
Global Citizens fosters connections and meaningful learning opportunities for children as global citizens. It is a historic experience for youngsters which will plant seeds of compassion and interdependence that will last a lifetime. This experience is a safe way to share the joys of participation, cultural ambassadorship, and empathy-based living within our preschool communities.
For more information on Global Citizens or iACT, please contact Danielle Kercher at email@example.com.
The first schools to purchase and implement Global Citizens will have the opportunity to develop a meaningful relationship and become the sister school of a Little Ripples preschool center, known as a Little Ripples Pond. A Sister School will have the honor to know that their school community took the first leap to creating the next generation that leads with empathy. iACT will provide each of these schools with a plaque to acknowledge this commitment to compassion, a personal gift from their sister Pond, and the opportunity to be honored on iACT’s website and at iACT events.