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Living Stories

Nontraditional College Students in Early Childhood Education


Susan Bernheimer

In Living Stories: Nontraditional College Students in Early Childhood Education, Susan Bernheimer takes the reader into her journey with a group of nontraditional college students. Bernheimer’s struggle to find a meaningful approach to teaching the students about early childhood development and care is infused with the insights and wisdom that come from listening to, and valuing, the remarkable stories of her students’ lives. This book offers a powerful new road map for early childhood teacher preparation through a relational pedagogy that honors students’ life experiences and that leads to deep reflection and learning. The approach is embedded in students’ strengths and knowledge and is successfully inclusive of an increasingly diverse student demographic. Bernheimer provides an inclusive model of education that builds upon the strengths of all students. 

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Chapter Nine. Stepping Into the Future


← 120 | 121 →

Chapter 9


Stepping Into the Future

Sunlight streamed through the windows onto our row of potted plants. Bright pictures and soft carpeting made a comfortable setting for the 15 small chairs. The children sat in a semi-circle for story time. But today was different. They were looking at me with wide, anxious eyes. This was our last day together, and I saw the fear on their faces. What could I say that would give them comfort and courage? I turned to the healing power of story and a brave little fish called Swimmy (Lionni, 1963). Slowly and with great tenderness, I began reading.

Every child was mesmerized by the little fish who had just lost everything. A big fish had swallowed the others, leaving Swimmy frightened, lost and alone. He swam away, looking around at the strange new world he just entered. I didn’t want to rush through this part of the book. I stopped reading and looked into each face, “It can feel scary and sad to leave everybody and go someplace new, can’t it?” They nodded, wide-eyed. At five years old, they understood what I was talking about. They were leaving the world they knew to join a bigger one called “kindergarten.” ← 121 | 122 →

Swimmy began to find his new world more and more interesting. He discovered strange and wondrous things he had never seen before. He grew strong and adventurous but never forgot...

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