This has been a fun year of teaching in regards to our adoption. I teach 1st and 2nd grade at a classical school. All of my students are caucasian, except for one beautiful biracial little girl. It's been really neat to watch my students start to open their eyes up to a world that is way bigger than our school and their neighborhood. It all started back in the fall, even before we announced our adoption. I like to read a lot of multicultural books to my students and we started coming across things that were "different" than the way they see things and hear things. And, one day, we came across a Chinese name on a math paper. One of my students said, "That's weird!" That of course spurred a continuing conversation (still going on to this day), that it's not weird, it's different. We talked about how if they went to school in China they would be the ones with names that stood out. We've had these conversations about many different cultural things on many different days, and I must say it's fun to see them starting to "get it." I even hear them saying it to each other, "it's not weird, just different!"
Here's another thing that happened frequently. Every time the kids were coloring a picture and coloring in someone's skin color, they would say things like, "Hey, can you pass the skin color? (i.e. peach)." After hearing this several times, I finally talked through the skin color thing. I had everyone take out all their colored pencils (which come in many shades of every color) and roll up their sleeves. I said, "We're going to see which colored pencil matches our skin color." At the end of this activity, we found that every person in our class (even all of those who were caucasian), had a different skin color, and to their surprise, no one actually matched the peach! I concluded this little activity by explaining that we shouldn't call the peach crayon "skin color" because not everyone in the world has that color skin. With much excitement they quickly went to their desks and made up all new names for their crayons including things like, coffee, hot chocolate, and cookie dough!
It has been so sweet to see their growing understanding of how people are different. Without my prompting or encouragement, when the kids are coloring, they are now including pictures with kids of all different skin colors, especially brown. ;) However, they don't quite understand that Abraham in the Bible, a jewish patriarch, is not African American. They have been doing things like this, without looking for recognition from me or others. They do it as if it's always been a natural inclination. Even the pictures they draw me tend to have people with brown skin. Here's one of the pictures my girls colored for me. An African ballerina. So sweet.