ANTI-RACISM RESOURCES FOR CHILDREN & FAMILIES
“It has been said that actions more often than not speak louder than words. And if this is so in the case of child-rearing, then we must be especially vigilant in our actions to shape the values children will attach as they learn about people in their world. If we don’t, they will learn by default the messages that are already prevalent out there and both we and they will contribute to perpetuating past ideas which we do not want to replicate in our children’s future.”Carol Brunson Phillips (1987)
What is it?
A shift from past theories of ‘multiculturalism’ to embedding practices of awareness, information, development of empathy, critical thinking, and activism, in current curriculum and everyday conversations.
Why is it important?
Spoken and unspoken messages are influencing children today/here and now. By empowering children with information we will counteract the influence of harmful messages such as racism, sexism, classism, ablism, and general discrimination.
What is the goal?
To help each individual develop an authentic identity, as well as, build a caring, just, and diverse community for all.
To build awareness, empathy and comfort with people beyond each child’s immediate environment. We are showing each child they are valued without upholding white culture, heteronormative values, gendered roles, ableist and classist norms.
Where is it in our classroom and where could you include it in your home?
Self Observations and Discussion
Categorizing at this age is developmentally appropriate, children notice how others differ from themselves and their family. We steer away from supporting social constructs and stereotypes by having intentional discussions about our differences and similarities.
With this curriculum we aim to normalize conversations about skin color, therefore reducing shame around race for individuals and families of color, as well as, white individuals and families. This openness allows children to be scientists making observations about their bodies, society and freedom to ask questions.
Reducing stigma brings increased recognition of unfair treatment and biases in individuals’ lives.
Often stereotypes come from a singular storyline. We loosen the hold of these messages by reading a multitude of books that offer many different sides to storylines that uphold non inclusive or untrue social norms.
Literacy allows children to access situations, feelings and topics that might not be present in their everyday life. It is a means to study how others live, giving context to inaccessible experiences, growing students’ knowledge of the world and laying a foundation for relating to others.
We return to stories over and over, asking our students open ended questions, recording and presenting their ideas to the group. This not only develops, but also encourages critical thinking skills while showing our students they are valued thinkers.
When students tell stories they become creators, collaborators and learners.
Our variety of therapeutic storytelling builds authentic self identities of children. We discuss each individual’s wants and needs, opening dialogue around how each person wants to be treated by peers and teachers. This acknowledgement of each person’s validity grows self awareness, self esteem as well as empathy for others despite differences.
Through storytelling we practice skills such as direct communication, compassion, consent, rejection, compromise, listening, asking questions, patience, acceptance and unconditional positive regard.
The simple act of sharing lays a foundation for standing up for oneself and others. When we feel heard, we learn to speak up, becoming active members of our community.
This skill is unbelievably important in a society where often there is silence.
Modeling and encouraging the practice of listening creates a path for both those who speak, to know they can be heard, as well as for those who listen, to respect and find value in the words of others.
We are advocating for children now, seeing them as people not just as someone that will grow up into a person.
Resources for parents: