- Speaking and continuing to develop home language.
- Becoming grounded in family’s cultural ways: language, rules about behavior, how emotions are expressed, gender norms.
- Identifying and matching people according to “racial” physical characteristics and groups, but often confused about complexities of group characteristics (i.e., people of different groups that have similar skin colors).
- Can learn that skin serves the same purpose for everyone, regardless of skin color and appreciate that all colors are beautiful. Not yet ready to understand the concept of “melanin”.
- Not yet clear about gender and racial identity constancy throughout life.
- Curious and sometimes fearful about disabilities.
- Beginning to show awareness of economic class.
- Over-generalizing and making incorrect associations about differences based on his/her limited experience and limited ways of processing information. May have their own explanations for the differences he/she observes among people.
- Absorbing societal stereotypes from people and from media about other groups and may show discomfort or fear. May tease or refuse to play with others because of skin color, language differences, or physical disabilities.
- Beginning to show evidence of social messages affecting feelings about self and/or group identity—i.e., evidence of beginnings of internalized superiority (IS) or internalized oppression (IO).
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!
- Encourage your child’s budding capacity for empathy and fairness.
- Support critical thinking and problem-solving, paving the way for your child to take action to make unfair things fair.
Each child will demonstrate empowerment and the skills to act, with others or alone, against prejudice and/or discriminatory actions.
Guidelines for Goal #4:
- Help your child practice a variety of ways to act when:
- another child behaves in a biased manner toward him or her
- a child behaves in a biased manner toward another child
- unfair situations occur in the classroom or playground
- unfair situations occur in his/her community, country, or the world
- Be alert for unfair practices that directly affect children’s lives. You may be the first to identify the problem, or your child may bring a problem to your attention.
- Engage your child/children in dialogue about their feelings and ideas regarding the specific situation. Provide information about the situation as appropriate. Nonfiction books can provide a factual backdrop. Fiction is great for feeling what it is like to walk in someone else’s shoes.
[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.
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Starting with Stories is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization registered in the state of Kansas. All donations are tax-deductible.