Communities can open our minds and make us ponder new ideas.
She came in happy and grinning ear to ear. I thought she was just happy to be back from a five day unexpected long weekend. We had two additional days off for the polar vortex and a snow day for our first decent snowfall; five inches. I learned quite quickly she was happy to share her family was celebrating the Chinese New Year. We had a small conversation back and forth where I learned about little things she had done the night before and what might be happening that evening. I asked her if she would like to share her holiday with her classmates and she eagerly said YES; with a bigger grin, if that was possible.
I felt sad I hadn’t paid attention and invited her family in for a more formal sharing. I began to think quickly and told her I had two books about the Chinese New Year and asked if she would like me to read them. She just kept smiling and we found Grace Lin’s Bringing In the New Year and Holidays Around the World: Celebrate Chinese New Year with Fireworks, Dragons, and Lanterns by Carolyn Otto. I was so excited to have a fiction and nonfiction pairing for our sharing.
As I read each text, she stopped me and would share more tidbits about her family and her life. She was very articulate about the history of the Chinese New Year and felt the books were accurate to her own experiences. She told us her grandpa was a retired teacher and he taught her about all things Chinese and her grandmother was the school nurse. They live with her currently here in the United States. She then shared she was born here in the United States and then went to live with her mother’s parents in China for three years; returning when she was almost four to then start kindergarten. Her sister had done the same thing with her father’s parents.
I looked around the room and saw puzzled faces all of a sudden. I knew they were trying to process living with grandparents. I shared I lived with me grandparents for a bit when my mom was sick. Worried expressions seemed to relax. Then G started talking in a soft voice; processing out loud her thinking. “I usually just go to my grandma’s for one night. pause. My parents are always with me.”
An informal and unplanned discussion really led by a child enriched us all this day. We were able to open our minds and ponder new ideas. Accepting this ideas because we care and belong to our classroom community.