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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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Foreword (Jacquelyn Green)


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I, as a child psychiatrist, and Dr. Bernheimer, as an educator, share the same passion. We are both advocates for children’s well-being and optimal development. For children being cared for in early childhood programs, this will depend upon their teachers. How are we going to prepare teachers to truly connect with the children and their parents in our rapidly changing, complicated and very diverse world? It is Dr. Bernheimer’s ability to critically address this question that drew me to this book. By weaving together theory, research, and personal stories, she presents a new way of conceptualizing the role of the instructor and by extension modeling an inclusive and relational approach to education that teachers can bring into their work with children and parents.

The human person has an inborn desire to communicate. It is this desire that Dr. Bernheimer so eloquently employs in her approach to preparing future teachers. It is clear from her words and her students’ words that developing a caring, empathic, and non-judgmental learning community is essential to becoming an effective early childhood educator today. ← xi | xii →

Dr. Bernheimer’s shift to a relational pedagogy is teaching these critically important skills for building a nurturing learning environment. In her classrooms, the ability to communicate across all differences becomes as important as learning the standard facts. This is what children need in their educational experience. It is through classroom dialogue and shared stories that teachers can learn to...

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