Can you believe it’s the second week of October already? This interesting year seems to be on fast forward and it will be the end of the year before we know it. The holidays are almost upon us; I love the holidays!
If you haven't already, make sure to give this month's Literacy Tips video a watch. We're discussing vocabulary in October, and Ms. Alexa and I have some great ideas to share with you.
So...how are the children? Do they seem to be adapting to the new normal well? I know it’s difficult, but hopefully they are getting the swing of things by now. I sure miss those hugs, smiles and conversations.
When working with small children, we get all types of questions. We have to be prepared for them to say just about anything. They’re so curious as to what’s going on in the world around them and the people that surround them. Children are very observant and pay attention more than we think.
Children in preschool are asked to sort and organize, separate, categorize and match objects almost daily. They are praised for correctly sorting shapes, colors, and even matching their own socks. Yet when they apply this same concept to the world around them, they are silenced or told that it’s wrong. One thing for sure…the children still notice the differences even after being silenced. And after recent events teachers, parents and caregivers are searching for resources on how to talk to children about race and inequality.
Children see the similarities and differences between themselves, their classmates and the other people around them quite early. Did you know by 6 months old babies will start to notice a difference in skin color? And by the age of 4 a lot of children start to form some type of racial bias? To be completely honest, the whole children are “colorblind” when it comes to race isn’t completely true and actually backed up by research. Prejudices and discrimination begin to affect children developmentally at an early age.
What do we do as teachers or caregivers when asked questions or overhearing the kid’s conversation about the differences in their skin color? What do we do when a child picks another child to play with only because their skin colors match? Do you tell them that everyone is the same on the inside and change the subject or do you actually sit down and explain the differences to a group of 4 and 5-year old children?
The truth is that most teachers and caregivers are unsure, unprepared and fear that speaking about race differences with the young child is inappropriate. The truth is that responsibility is ours as teachers, parents and caregivers. And taking the “colorblind approach” does not protect the children from anything, it only denies the child of having a sense of validity in the world.
So, how do we engage with children on these sensitive topics? Start an age appropriate conversation (Be prepared for anything.) Let them ask questions and say what they think, then we can correct them as necessary. Here are a couple of links I based my research and information from. They are very helpful on starting the conversation.
Link 1 | Link 2
Some books on diversity I have read and found to be helpful in discussing diversity:
It’s Okay to be Different by Todd Parr – This book bursts with self-esteem and gives a message of acceptance, confidence and understanding in a bright child friendly format that the children will love.
I Am Enough by Grace Byers
– You will fall in love with this New York Times Best Seller’s illustrations before even diving into the book. It teaches children about being kind and respecting others.
All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold
– Children of all backgrounds go to a school where they are accepted, appreciated, have a space, have a place and most importantly they are loved.
I hope these resources and ideas are helpful in discussing such sensitive but important issues. As always, I am here for questions, concerns and ideas at Shannon.firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone (704) 878-3090 Ext. 3097.
I’m so thankful that you’re deciding to stay connected with me,