I am new to the whole school thing even though I am an educator at heart (taught 3rd grade for 4 years before Tyson arrived). I have a preschooler that is only in this second week of preschool and there are already some things that I would do differently especially after talking with other parents of multicultural families at the Domino Foundation meetings we go to.
One of the things I would do differently is to make sure that my kids are not the only kids of color in the class. I should have called and made my request known to the teacher, but I didn’t think of it around registration time. Luckily for me and Tyson, he isn’t, but I wish I was more proactive about that. Next year for sure.
One of the things I thought I did well was to let the teacher know that race was important to us in a fun kind of way.
After Gavin and I dropped Tyson off at his school, Gav and I went to Barnes & Noble for a treat and to pick out a book. I love this time to spend with just Gavin–something he rarely gets because he and Tyson are so close in age. I am always delighted to see him blossom on our alone dates which happen more frequently now that Tyson is in school. He is so cute and chatty! He picked out a Star Wars alphabet book (shocker) and I picked out a book to give Tyson’s teacher. We read them to each other over a cupcake in the Barnes & Noble cafe. I looked for a book that would be of interest to Tyson, age appropriate, non-fiction (something most boys his age are drawn to) and most importantly, the book had to feature children in the illustrations that looked like Tyson.
I chose Teammates. I put a little ribbon on it, wrote a note and gave it to Tyson’s teacher when I went to pick him up. She loved it and I loved feeling proactive while letting the teacher know I appreciated her. Everybody wins–especially Tyson. This is definitely something I will repeat for all the holidays where it is appropriate to give a little something to the teacher. (I can’t wait for those book order papers to start coming home!)
Here is what the note said, feel free to use it too.
“Thank you in advance for everything you will do for Tyson this year. We love to share books that have have photos/stories of people that look like our kids. This one is a fave.”
That night, we let Tyson pick out dinner at his favorite restaurant for Mr. R to bring home (Cafe Rio). He got The Red Pate (Waechtersbach Plate, You Are Special Today, Cherry Red) and both he and Gavin got a special little “Smartie” treat. (Smartie Pants printable here.) I loved hearing him talk about his new friend with red hair that is “so so nice” and show us the picture he made of the letter T that day.
Tyson called his birth mom on the way to school and told her how excited he was. (So excited that he hung up on her.) I chatted with her right before I parked the car and snapped this photo (below) to send to her, Mr. R and the grandparents. Mr. R even sent me a text back telling me how it made his heart ache a little that he was growing up. So very true. What a big boy!
Also, I encourage you to get to know the Domino Foundation a “non-profit charitable foundation that helps educate prospective transracial adoptive parents, as well as those who have completed the process of transracial adoption.” Their classes are incredible, personal, real and uplifting. They have created a list of books for transracial adoptive families.
Recently they linked to this fantastic list from Scholastic Books called How To Choose The Best Multicultural Books. This list is broken down into different cultural groups (Native American, Latinos, African American, Jewish Culture, Asian-American, etc.) with 10 book recommendations for each as well as other authors to check out, points to remember about that specific culture and answers from the authors/illustrators to questions like:
- What do you suggest teachers look for when selecting Native American literature?
- Your books do such a good job of bridging cultures, and they never smack of contrivance. How do you make that happen story after story?
- How do you portray African-American characters authentically in your illustrations?
Clearly a wonderful resource! Fill your library with these beautiful stories and illustrations. Maybe even send the list to grandparents as a gift ideas for Christmas and birthdays!