Bias Free Early Learning Programs

In 2016 and 2017 ACT for SJ facilitators, Angela Berkfield and Mikaela Simms, worked with over 40 local early educators in 9 workshops to better understand race, class, gender and how it shows up in early learning environments.

We used the following points From Anti-Bias Education by Louise Derman-Sparks & Julie Olsen Edwards

Here’s what we know:

  1. Kids are curious about their own and others’ physical and cultural characteristics.
  2. Children begin to construct a personal sense of self and their social identities from the time they are born.
  3. Children are learning about their own and others’ social identities through both overt and covert messages and they are learning who is and who isn’t important.
  4. As early as 2 children show signs of pre-prejudice as they absorb negative attitudes and stereotypes about others.

And are 4 important goals for what children are learning in early learning programs:

  1. Children will learn and demonstrate self-awareness, confidence, family pride and positive social identities.
  2. Children will express comfort and joy with human diversity; accurate language for human differences; and deep, caring human connections.
  3. Children will increasingly recognize unfairness, have language to describe it, and understand that unfairness hurts.
  4. Children will demonstrate empowerment and the skills to act, with others or alone, against prejudice and/or discrimination.

With early educators we used a variety of activities, resources, film clips, children’s books, and group discussion. The discussion was deep, heartfelt, and because we got to spend time with educators over a one year time-period it was possible to see a change in demonstrated thinking and action.

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