Reflect on Inclusive Teaching and Learning Practices

Examine Early Childhood Education Teaching and Learning Through the Eyes and Minds of a Librarian, a Pediatrician, and Mental Health Child-Parent Expert

“Our philosophy of thought at Opening Minds is to offer a multitude of professional childhood development perspectives to arrive at creative solutions.”

“Adopt and adapt what works from a professional in a related field.”


Kelly Durov

Library Science Expert

Literacy Development


Angela Marie Esposito


About Visual Literacy


Dr. Rupal Christine Gupta


ACES and Trauma


Tessa Brock


Resource Recommendations Emotional Work

ABOUT Visual Literacy

Visual Literacy is reading and writing images. When you see an image do you understand what’s being communicated by that image? How often do you use one photo, drawing or symbol to communicate meaning or feelings? Teach children how to read the built environment.

Angela Marie, Esposito LEED/AKBD Senior Manager of Education + Experience of Chicago Architecture Center

A word about Visual Literacy from Angela Marie Esposito LEED/AKBD
Senior Manager of Education + Experience of Chicago Architecture Center

“When we think about observing the world around us it is sometimes easy to ‘look’ without really ‘understanding.’ Visual literacy is not a new idea in the education world, but a concept that has evolved overtime. By definition: visual literacy is being able look and translate (or interpret) the world around you – whether it is advertising, a science theory or the built environment. A simple way teachers can incorporate this type of literacy in their classrooms is by asking critical and probing questions.”

Examine Your Teaching and Learning Through the Eyes of Operation Breakthrough Medical Director

We asked Dr. Gupta, Pediatrician at Children’s Mercy Hospital, Kansas City, Missouri, Assistant Professor at UMKCfor her guiding principles on the complexity of the human experience. How does Rupal care for herself and her family, as she cares and gives so much to others?

Dr. Rupal Christine Gupta, MD, FAAP

Rupal’s Three Guiding Principles 

1. Live in the moment. “ I spend a great deal of time working to be in the moment with whatever I am doing. This is something I practice daily, including being off my screen when I am home with my kids, actively work around the home, gardening, playing with the kids, whatever I can do to stay productive and active. That is what helps my own mindfulness and my own mental health.  I practice yoga nearly daily, and I also sing in a choir. I also actively discuss conflict with my spouse so that while we do have some difficult conversation, nothing percolates longer than it should.”

2. Find connections to your work in unexpected settings. “It’s interesting for me – a lot of what I do personally is look to arts and culture and find connections to the work that I do in unexpected settings – such as fiction. I don’t know if I intentionally read as many educational books as I probably should. I am in the middle of Nadine Burke-Harris’s “The Deepest Well” which has been wonderful for learning about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).”

3. Benefit from the power of connections and relating the work you do to what we read and see in other areas such as fiction and children’s literature. Here are a couple of examples: “I just read “The Nix” – which is a pretty tough piece of fiction to get through, but it has really amazing insights into humanity and the complexity of human experience, including the challenges that people make in their decision-making in life and how they can have redemption from past mistakes. There is a very strong plotline for traumatic experiences people endure including family separation, experiencing violence.  I also really enjoy children’s literature and find it fascinating to learn about children’s resilience in the face of adversity. The works of Roald Dahl are very powerful in this vein, especially Charlie and the Chocolate Factor and Matilda. In my mind Roald Dahl makes these different feelings and emotions and the development of resilience very accessible to children.”  


Tessa Brock, MA, LPC, IMH-E, Mental Health Coordinator for the Child-Parent Centers in Tuscon, Arizona,

No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind by Dan Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson

The Whole Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind by Dan Siegal and Tina Payne Bryson

Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High by Al Switzler, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan


Quick Tips for Literacy Development

Written by Gail Conway

What is Literacy?

The purpose of literacy is to communicate what you are thinking to others. We have spent decades developing young children’s abilities to communicate through reading, writing, talking and listening, the four cornerstones of literacy. It’s not enough.
21st century classrooms need a fifth cornerstone, Visual Literacy. In today’s multimedia filled world, sometimes words are not enough and only an image will do.
Visual Literacy is the ability to express and interpret thoughts through images and other visual representations.

If only we could see the world through a child’s eyes to understand how they make connections between what is there and not there.

Children may see connections others do not- this is where new ideas and ways of knowing are formulated. These are the seeds from which a new generation of innovation will happen.

5 Quick Tips for Literacy Development

  • Create a Caring Relationship. It is primary caregivers and other trusting relationships that view children’s attempts at reading, writing and talking as meaningful, which fosters literacy development. When you “act as if” infants sounds, toddlers scribbles and young children’s reading attempts do have meaning you encourage them to further experiment with sounds, words, scribbles and books. Caring relationships provide daily interactions and the consistency children need to begin to recognize the structures of reading, writing and talking.

Children learn about the sounds of language, turn taking, appropriate words for a given situation (semantics), and new vocabulary through everyday interactions and conversations.
Talk with children
Help children find their words to express themselves
Answer children’s ‘what’ and ‘why’ questions
Play with language- the beginning and ending sounds of words/talk in rhyme/sing!

  • Read to Children, or have children read to you. Begin by describing the pictures, places and people they see in books. Read a variety of different types of stories: Fiction, Non-Fiction, Fairy Tales, Poems, Jokes, Biographies, Mysteries, or Fantasies.


Model the act of reading and writing. This will inspire children to do the same and it will show children how to hold a book, read from left to write, and turn the pages.Label children’s drawings. Write down children’s own stories.

 Encourage reading at home and at school, daily, to create the habit of reading. Point out words as you read to link children’s understanding between sight and sound words.

  • Provide Tools for Literacy. Anything that writes, creates books, pictures, or stimulates conversation.


Tools include paper, pens, paints, markers, glue sticks and crayons.

Toys and games such as Etch A Sketch and Scrabble

Playdough and Wikki Sticks to shape letters or make other creations.

  • Create an Environment Rich with Print
  • Allow for Free Play Everyday

Play is a failure free learning environment. When children have opportunities for freely chosen play in a literacy rich environment they will include reading, writing and talking as part of their play. Dramatic play areas with a variety of materials, for example, encourage children to build their vocabulary as they handle an object, describe it and name it. Play encourages children to speak words in sentences they do not yet quite understand to see if the word ‘sounds right’ for that situation. A grocery store set-up supplied simply with empty food containers can stimulate hours of scenarios, exploration into the real world of buying and selling, cooking and cleaning. Add a pad of paper and a pencil to the grocery store and the children now have the possibility to experiment with scribbles to represent a grocery list, money, sign or clock for their store. Play gives children practice at being competent readers, writers and talkers eventually with practice will become expert.


 “If you read just one book a day to your child, they will have been read 1825 books by their 5th birthday. Every Day Counts. Every Book Counts.” Every Child Ready to Read 2nd Edition