- Continuing to develop an awareness of self as a separate individual.
- Learning to interact with others within the cultural rule system of their families. Paying close attention to “their” adults’ feelings and non-verbal messages.
- Curious about physical characteristics of self and others (skin color, hair texture, gender anatomy). May “match” people based on physical characteristics.
- Sometimes showing discomfort around unfamiliar people, including individuals with different skin color. May not have the language to express or ask about aspects of difference that intrigues them.
- Beginning to vocalize words from his/her home language. By age two identify self/others with words like “me”, ‘mine”, and “you”.
Each child will demonstrate self-awareness, confidence, family pride, and positive social identities.
This is the starting place for all children in all settings.
Guidelines for Goal #1:
- It is important to nurture each child’s individual personal identity, while also equally important to nurture social group identities (i.e., racial, cultural, gender, economic class).
- It is essential to support children fully in the social identity aspects of Goal #1 before you move on to any of the other goals. As Bill Martin says in his poem “I Am Freedom’s Child”:
As I learn to like the differences in me,
I learn to like the differences in you.
Each child will express comfort and joy with human diversity, accurate language for human differences, and deeply caring human connections.
From infancy on, children notice and are curious about all kinds of differences among people. They also develop their own (often surprising) explanations for the differences they observe and experience.
Guidelines for Goal #2:
- Strike a balance between exploring people’s similarities and differences.
- Developmentally, it is best to teach children by beginning with what they already know and have experienced. Therefore, it is important to explore the many kinds of diversity present among children they know, even when they come from similar racial, cultural, economic class, and family backgrounds.
- Further broaden children’s knowledge of diversity by acquainting children with groups of people who live and work in their larger community. Preschoolers learn best about people as individuals, not as representatives of groups or countries.
Each child will increasingly recognize unfairness, have language to describe unfairness, and understand that unfairness hurts.
Guidelines for Goal #3:
- Find out what your child is thinking and feeling about people who are different from themselves. Notice their comments or body language in day-to-day situations or play.
- Draw out their ideas while reading books.
- Contrast inaccurate, untrue images or ideas with accurate ones. Kids often fill in gaps in their understanding with some surprising conclusions!
- In the same activities, you will lay the groundwork for building your child’s budding capacity for empathy and fairness.
At age one and two children are not developmentally ready to understand the concept of activism.
[Adapted from Anti-Bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves by Louise Derman-Sparks, National Association for the Education of Young Children, Washington, D.C., 2010.]
Kansas City Parade of Hearts
Dennis Stanton, artist
Rethinking Race in the Midwest
Our mission is to encourage families to rethink race and the role it plays in our segregated region. Using children’s literature, featuring diverse characters, we will support families with young children (birth-9) to start and strengthen early conversations about race and diversity.
All Are Welcome!
Starting with Stories respects persons from all faith traditions, as well as those who do not have a religious affiliation. We are grateful to religious organizations that generously offer Starting with Stories a venue and support for our work, but we remain—always and in all spaces—open to a diversity of beliefs.
The Power of Your Donation
Your donation helps dismantle racism in our community. Please donate now.
Starting with Stories is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization registered in the state of Kansas. All donations are tax-deductible.