Culturally responsive classroom
When kindergartener Zara’s parents visited their daughter’s classroom to share the love of their two countries—Azra is from Bosnia and Juraj from Slovakia—they made the moment experiential: students listened to stories and learned to count to 10 in Bosnian. They tasted apple custard and creamy cheese with fresh bread.
And all this food and fun laid the groundwork for something more important: “Research shows that family involvement is the most accurate predictor of student academic success,” says kindergarten teacher Kiran Younus. By inviting families to share a tradition or a passion, she hoped to foster the connection between home and school that helps enrich the Lab experience. “We learned about how we are similar and how we are different, started thinking about our own identities, and opened our hearts and minds to others in our classroom family,” she says.
- Genevieve has been gardening with her parents since she was one, so her family came in to talk about gardening. Each child planted basil seeds in a pot to bring home.
- Madeleine’s parents shared a tradition of going apple picking. They read the children a story, had a station for apple tasting, and created apple stamp art.
- Ishaan’s parents explained Diwali, also known as The Festival of Lights. Ishaan wore a kurta pajama, the family shared kheer (rice pudding with cardamom), and the class used stencils to make designs using rangoli (colored powder).
- Evan’s dad shared his love of chemistry with “awesome” experiments. First, he blended cabbage to make cabbage juice. Then he added different acids and bases to it—a great chance for the kids to make observations and notice the changes. For snack, he made ice cream using liquid nitrogen.
- Amelia’s family shared their tradition of camping. The children put up a tent, played in it, and ate s’mores.
- Isabelle’s parents introduced the Dutch side of her family. Her classmates loved the click-clacking sounds they made as they experienced walking in wooden shoes.
- Zachary’s mom is from Japan and his dad speaks Japanese. They explained that Japan is surrounded by water and water plants and amazed the children by showing how quickly seaweed grows. They planted a little in water and kids watched it grow while they listened to a story in Japanese.