Every Child Has a Voice: Our Commitment to an Equitable Educational Environment
Recent tumultuous events have brought racial inequity into greater focus, with a heightened awareness of the longstanding pain caused by systemic injustice. It is a reminder that we have a long way to go in rooting out racism. And for those of us in the field of education, it is a needed call to action: We have an opportunity to take a transformative look at how we shape our children’s thinking, beliefs, and attitudes from the start.
At Housman Institute, we believe our role is not only to nurture the academic, social, and emotional well-being of all our diverse students, but our educators as well. Teachers cannot teach to their highest potential if they don’t feel valued and supported, and they cannot grow professionally if they don’t feel respected. Our work as educators is predicated on supporting the development of emotional intelligence, and we are committed to eliminating biases in social, emotional, and cognitive learning communities where all members thrive.
We know that it is critical for every child to feel recognized and validated from their earliest days — to understand that their voice matters, and is heard. Emotion is the universal first language for all children, one they all speak from birth, regardless of background. They develop in the context of relationships, and the words and actions of educators and caregivers help inform children’s understanding of their world, and of themselves. All children must feel that they are understood and valued equally, whatever their race, religion, experience, or abilities.
Cultivating empathy is a critical component of emotional intelligence, and building positive communication and relationships across differences is a cornerstone of our begin to ECSEL program. Every classroom stresses each individual child as an equally valued part of the whole, an equally important part of problem solving when heated moments arise. Times of heightened emotion are opportunities to understand our feelings and those of others, and it’s critical that this takes place in a safe listening space. This is the basis of bonds across differences, and appreciation for what at our core is the same.
We need to begin the important work now in order to help all of our children, our educators, and ourselves move toward a more equitable environment for early learning. Our begin to ECSEL classroom is the critical first step on an educational path that helps every child develop their full capabilities in the context of caring, equitable relationships. This is the foundation for developing self-esteem and respect—essential building blocks of conflict resolution and a more equitable future for us all.