How elementary and early childhood classrooms engage with socio-emotional learning is deeply connected to creating a classroom community. Yet, much of socio-emotional learning curricula focuses on the individual child, rather than on the everyday interactions that build and sustain community. During the Civic Action and Young Children study, we spent a year in a Head Start preschool in Texas, where we noticed that although many children in the class struggled with varied difficult circumstances including poverty, homelessness, discrimination and threat of deportation, the teachers did not label them as homeless, illegal immigrants or poor. Additionally, children seemed to help one another more than we saw in other preschool classrooms. This paper focuses on Ms. Luz and Ms. Louisa’s classroom of 17 preschool students and how they created a community that supported a young Latino boy, Luis, who experienced housing insecurity during his year in the classroom. Luis’s story highlights how the collective idea of civicness, i.e., acting with and on behalf of the community created authentic opportunities for creating and sustaining community. Rather than working with a child experiencing trauma through an individualized and decontextualized curricula, focusing on the community created opportunities for all children to practice authentic care and for Luis to experience inclusion in the community. We offer five implications and recommendations to create classroom communities that both welcome children experiencing trauma and create authentic opportunities for children to enact civicness.
Payne, K. A.,
Adair, J. K.,
Creating Classroom Community to Welcome Children Experiencing Trauma.
Occasional Paper Series,