I am currently teaching 23 5-7 year olds in a mainstream Kindergarten classroom. There are 11 girls in the class and 13 boys. My students are African American and Latino, with 18 African Americans and five Latinos. Every child in my class speaks English as a first language, although two students speak English and Spanish at home. Of 23 students three students went to some sort of preschool, and only one of these students was in school for more than a year. Therefore most of my students experience outside of the home is extremely limited. Through talking to my students and their parents I have realized that up to 80% of my students have moved at least once in their memory that at least three have been without a permanent home at some time. At least half of the population in the neighborhood have limited or no access to private vehicles, although I am not sure how many in my class that is the case. More than half the class has at least one parent working in the household, although the majority of the students still qualify for the free lunch program.
Because of my students' limited experiences and their age I plan on building slowly broadening their sense of community, by scaffolding lessons as the unit progresses. The lessons will begin by dealing with the areas of the community that the students are most familiar with (their homes), and then be brought to include areas that they are newly familiar with (school, playground) and finally incorporate the places that we discover. We will also grow from understanding that we are part of a classroom community, a school community and finally a neighborhood community. Because of this process of broadening their perspective, I believe the unit will take at least six months to culminate successfully.