June is Pride month, which for many people means a time of celebration and togetherness while for others it can be a time of reflection, unease or even distress. We are acutely aware that within our tiney community (both childminders and families) we are so lucky to be part of a diverse and interesting group of people who come together primarily for a common goal - to provide our children with a fantastic Early Years education - but more than that, we are a group of people who share many similarities but also have some differences.
One key message of Pride month is to provide a platform of awareness for different sexualities, genders and preferences. It’s one thing to recognise Pride is happening, but as early educators, we firmly believe that it’s time to change the conversation - to not only recognise what is happening but to understand the importance of why.
Whatever your personal beliefs regarding relationships, marriage or lifestyle choices, we as a community are undergoing a period of change and growth. Over recent months we have seen first hand the power of our community connecting, and the power of working towards shared goals for the good of the children in our care. If we don’t start talking openly and freely about individuality to our children, we will need to think about the negative impact this will bring.
Often when topics seem challenging, or if we don’t fully feel comfortable or knowledgeable talking about them, our first natural reaction is to shy away from talking about them at all, to brush things aside and to divert the focus. However, even very young children are able to pick up on these vibes, and ultimately, this presents a real danger that they will grow up not only unable to talk about people’s authentic selves (including their own self), but also unable to be accepting of someone who somehow seems different from them.
As a community of childminders, our first goal should be to set the groundwork for talking to children by first of all openly talking to their parents. Share with them why you feel exploring this topic is relevant and important, link in how it supports our teaching of British values by recognising that our country, and others around the world are built from a patchwork of people who each bring to the table a diverse range of values and preferences.
Some of these values and preferences may match yours, while some may not. As practitioners it is our responsibility to step back and approach this topic from a position of respect. Honouring differences, validating them and reminding our children that ultimately we need to have a shared goal of creating communities where love can look and feel different for different people.
At tiney we want you to feel empowered to filter down this message to your youngest mindees that they must always know that you respect and value exactly who they are. We aren’t here to mould children into a mini version of what we think they should be, we are here to nurture them to become exactly who they want to be. All too often society is focused on seeking similarities which unite people, perhaps now is the moment to switch it up and focus instead on the unique differences that make us exactly who we are.
This shift to a celebration of unique traits and individuality begins at the roots of your home and begins with you. Own your own space first. Be proud to be authentically you. The best start we can provide for our mindees is to become a role model for the world we want to live in.