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Anti-Racist Kids: How We Teach Little Kids About Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

two girls hugging

There’s no doubt: We’re witnessing an historic movement for racial justice in our country. While parents of color have likely been talking about race with their families for some time, conversations about injustice and racism might be new to some white families. But now more than ever, it’s clear that we all need to teach our kids about racism and even more importantly, how to be an anti-racist.  

As educators, we look at the world through the lens of learning and strive to help everyone in our school community feel safe and cared for. One way we’re making good on this goal, is with anti-bias education for all of our students—even babies! 

So, what is anti-bias education, and how does it show up at KinderCare? 
Anti-bias education is a way of teaching that helps children recognize fairness and un-fairness and learn how to speak up for others when they recognize prejudice or injustice. In our classrooms, we build and practice four key anti-bias skills with young learners: 

1. A sense of identity  
2. Empathy and respect for human diversity  
3. An understanding of fairness and justice  
4. The ability to stand up for one’s self and others  

And it all starts with acknowledging differences! In fact, when children are encouraged to recognize the similarities and differences between them, they’re better equipped to develop respect and appreciation for people like—and unlike—themselves.   

Why do we make diversity and inclusion part of our everyday curriculum? 
To raise the next generation of anti-racist humans, we need to start early and with intention. Kids are never too young to start learning the importance and principles of being inclusive. In fact, five-year-old children might not understand prejudice or racial bias, but they already mimic similar attitudes about race that are held by the adults in their cultural group.  
Our teachers create experiences and opportunities for that growth by using anti-bias principles in their teaching practices including: 
  • Citizenship—Everyone has value! In our classrooms, differences are honored, not feared.  
  • Advocacy—Stand up for others! We help children practice all the ways we can stand up, or speak out, on behalf of people within (and outside) our own community.
  • Acceptance—Everyone’s welcome in our circle! Our positive classroom culture creates communities that are safe and welcoming spaces for all children and families. At KinderCare, everyone is respected and cared for.  
How does anti-racism show up in our classrooms?  
Before we can begin to practice anti-bias principles, we have to acknowledge each person in our community, and recognize what makes them unique. We encourage the children and families in our classroom communities to share elements of their culture with us. From there we incorporate elements from each student’s culture (like language or tradition) into our classroom routines and materials.  

And, instead of generalizing or making sweeping assumptions about people in our everyday discussions, we make a point to talk openly—and positively—about our similarities and differences. To support perspectives of all kinds, our teachers use materials like books and toys that reflect people from a variety of cultures, races, nationalities, abilities, ages, genders, family structures, and more!  

By talking about race with children early and often, we can help the next generation adopt even stronger anti-bias mindsets and behaviors. And that’s the ultimate goal: To raise children who accept, value, and celebrate diversity, and treat others with kindness and respect.  
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