Northern Illinois University has been using the Everyone Matters Curriculum since 2011. After searching for an appropriate anti-bias and social justice resource for use in an early childhood setting, I was thrilled to discover AMAZEworks.
I was attending a NAEYC conference with a colleague and we knew that we hit upon something very special. We purchased the book, along with several of the persona dolls, and it was one of the best investments we have ever made. The book, Everyone Matters, is broken down into sections that provide simple but powerful suggestions for implementing a developmentally appropriate curriculum that is specifically intended for young children. They also provide specific resources (such as children’s books) to enhance the implementation of the curriculum. What we love most about this curriculum is how easy it is to fit into your existing practices, and the focus it has on welcoming and celebrating all families. The teachers appreciate the direct approach of the curriculum which provides them with ways to respond to children’s questions in a developmentally appropriate and non-biased way. They also include activities for parents so they can become involved and educate themselves as the children are moving through the curriculum.The impact of implementing this curriculum in our program has been significant.
Although teachers already have many creative ideas they implement with the children, this resource helped to expand everyone’s thinking on how we can be more intentional in welcoming each and every family. These activities also help to create a stronger home-school connection. One of our favorite activities was to have each family create their own scrapbook page, including family photos and their responses to questions about their family. The premise is to allow everyone to define their own family (which could include extended family, partners, friends, etc.). We then posted all of the photo pages up front for everyone to see and later turned them into family books for each classroom. The children LOVE the persona dolls and treat them as if they are another child in the classroom.
One day I borrowed ‘Nick’ for a presentation I was giving and the children all asked where he was going, and said good-bye to him as they would any other child in the classroom. I had to promise he would be back the next day. The persona dolls are used to help children problem solve about classroom issues, explore family structures (especially ones that may not be present in their classroom or lives), and to help children learn classroom rules and common values. Overall, AMAZEworks has been a wonderful resource for our staff, has enhanced our curriculum and program practices, and helped our program evolve in significant ways. We tell others about it all the time!