Anti-Racist Early Childhood Education
Many actions must be made by parents and educators to ensure that children receive an anti-racist early childhood education. Some of these phases take place before children even enter school. Here are a few foundational principles of creating an anti-racist early childhood education, ranging from equal access to quality education to the language used by children when discussing race and culture.
- Access to high-quality education for all
Not all children have equal access to high-quality education, daycare, and after-school programs. Children of color, children who do not speak English as a first language, children with special needs, and children living in poverty, on the whole, do not have access to the same quality of educational programs as their middle- and upper-class, white peers. The first core concept of anti-racist early childhood education is ensuring equal access to high-quality childcare and education.
- Encourage each child’s racial and ethnic self-worth.
Some parents and educators may be concerned about their young children addressing race and ethnicity in the school. The most typical criticism against this approach to classroom learning is that children are too young for such lectures or conversations and that children do not understand racial differences. According to a study, even infants can distinguish distinctions in skin tones, and by the time they are toddlers, they can classify people based on physical attributes. By the age of five, when many children are in daycare and kindergarten, they have been exposed to cultural and racial stereotypes and are capable of violent conduct toward individuals who are not members of their racial group. Educators must design lessons, activities, and guided discussions about race and ethnicity in a way that affirms each learner’s identity and encourages self-worth.
- In educational programs, everyone has equal access and treatment.
Just because equal access to childcare or educational programs is mandated does not imply that children are treated equally or have equal access to education once enrolled in a program. For example, it is well known that black children are disciplined more frequently and harshly than white children. Despite making up a far smaller proportion of the entire learner population, studies suggest that black preschoolers are nearly four times as likely as white preschoolers to be suspended. Educators must make every effort to treat all students equally, regardless of race.
- Recognize children’s ability to discuss race and work to dismantle any racist teachings.
Again, research shows that even at a young age, children can recognize and learn about racial stereotypes. Anti-racist early childhood education necessitates frank discussions about race and culture, as well as efforts to remove any ingrained racist behaviors or ideas.
If racism is learned, it may also be unlearned. Instead of acquiring racism, children can be taught inclusivity and a strong sense of self-worth from an early age. Future generations may have a different perspective on race, both for themselves and others if these guiding core principles of anti-racist early childhood education are followed.
- Subvert Eurocentric curricula by identifying marginalized groups
Western history has a dangerous tendency to “whitewash” lessons that present European and white historical figures in a positive light while ignoring or dismissing the contributions of people of color. An anti-racist education must cover the complete stories of all historical individuals, without bias based on skin color, and should pay special emphasis to promote previously marginalized social groups.