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It was a simple table, one we might see in our preschool classroom.  The food was served family style and our hosts were pleased to be sharing their lunch with us.  What was important was not the complexity of the meal.  What was important was creating a simple place where we could sit and talk and learn from one another.  As we began, I learned that many accommodations were being made for us.  We were given forks and napkins although our Ugandan friend ate with their fingers.  We engaged in conversation although the wife of our guide told me talking during a meal is not usual – first you eat, paying attention to your food, and then you sit and talk. 
I am thinking about the accommodations we make, or too often do not make, in our schools.  I am thinking of children who must find our classrooms quite confusing, not just the new language and faces but some of our customs.  A mother from India asked me about story time.  She said when she reads a book at home, she stops often to ask her child questions and talk about the words and pictures.  She told me this is the way they do it in her country where the children begin school at an early age.  When she observed circle time in the preschool class, the children were expected to sit and listen to the story from start to finish.  I had to pause for a moment because of course we want to engage children in the story process.  But sitting at circle is a school skill that we are developing.   It has me thinking this morning about how we make connections, how we welcome children and families into our school community.  Perhaps we have made preschool too complex.  Perhaps we need to take a lesson from our Ugandan friends and look for those places where we first make our guests feel comfortable and welcomed.  Perhaps more to ponder.

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