Like hundreds of thousands of Houstonians, our team at Rice University’s School Literacy and Culture program returned to work this week for the first time after Hurricane Harvey’s catastrophic weather event ravaged our city. We came in jeans and tennis shoes because we couldn’t muster the energy to dress in professional attire and we gathered around the table. There was work to do, but somehow we couldn’t do it until we’d shared our stories… stories of hunkering down, of four year olds who wore helmets and played in bathtubs through tornado warnings, of loved ones whose homes filled with water and lost everything. We juggled the guilt of being the lucky ones who entered the homes of our neighbors and the sanctuaries of our churches and used sledgehammers to take out our frustration as we took down drywall. We hadn’t lost everything, and in many cases we hadn’t lost any thing, yet our world had been shaken. We were no longer asking “What day is it?”, yet we were still in search of our “new normal.”
Because we are early childhood educators, our conversation quickly turned to the children. As adults, we had a compelling need to share our stories before we could re-enter the regular world. “Children will need this opportunity to talk, too,” we said. Then we asked ourselves, “How can we create these safe spaces for children to share their stories?”
This activity guide is our attempt to work with our colleagues across the city who are just beginning to welcome preschoolers and kindergarteners back into their classrooms. None of us really know what we will find as the children return to us, but when we talk it through, we realize that our backgrounds as early childhood educators have prepared us to support them. Please share this document with your teaching team, your leadership teams and your fellow educators as we begin to help children recover from the traumatic experiences associated with Harvey. Find the PDF version of “Listening for the Stories: Supporting Prekindergarten and Kindergarten Students as They Return to the Classroom” on our website.
|Written by Karen Capo, Jordan Khadam-Hir, Debbie Paz and Vanessa Vierra of Rice University’s School Literacy & Culture|