As I was planning all of my learning experiences on community helpers for my kindergarten students, I created my inquiry board in the classroom and posted doctors, nurses and dentists, firefighters, police officers and builders. I planned to spend a week on each helper, learning what they do to help us, what tools and vehicles they use, what clothes they wear.
Soon enough, I asked myself: am I limiting their understanding on who helpers really are? Don’t get me wrong, all of these helpers are very important to us and we unquestionably need them in our lives but I couldn’t help but think I was missing something. As it turned out as I was going further into my lesson planning, my youngest son who is a kindergartner made this comment:  ‘mom, I’m sad dad is not a helper because he is not very important he only has people come and eat at his restaurant and he doesn’t wear a uniform’. Just like that I saw opportunity to expand my students understanding of what a community helper really is and rethought my lesson planning.

That first morning after vacation during circle time, once we went over the community helpers posted on our board, I started out a discussion by asking students if they saw or interacted with community helpers on a daily basis. They had to think fo a minute but quickly realized that, yes, they did : people who collected the trash are, in fact, very helpful to the community. People who blow the leaves in the fall are very important for our environment. Some children even mentioned ‘Georges the plumber who fixed the hot water at home’, and ‘Lisa the best baby-sitter ever‘. Yes, they are all community helpers! We need them everyday, they truly make our lives easier and better!

Needless to say I realized what a limited representation of community helpers I was about to impart to my class. I immediately rethought my approach and discovered that there was also no need to cram all of the professions into one week or to retain just a few of them. Each topic we study throughout the year will most likely lead to the introduction of new kinds of helpers. A wonderful place to look for inspiration is the wide variety of jobs that family members hold. We are looking forward to inviting some parents to come and talk to the students!