Many early childhood educators are already struggling to make meaningful connections with their young students remotely in the midst of a global pandemic. Now, in the wake of the murders by police of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd and the brutal killing of Ahmaud Arbery, educators are challenged to find a way to discuss race and racism with young children in a way that is developmentally appropriate, honest, and impactful. This is already hard, but connecting on such an emotional topic remotely with an age group that learns best by seeing, feeling, hearing and interacting– that is a unique challenge for sure.
But, it’s a necessary one. Young children of all races are already being impacted by race and racism and they have questions about all of it. It’s up to the trusted adults in their lives to honor their curiosity, confusion, fear, and any other emotions that may come up, or could be brewing beneath the surface.
Here are some ways you can start or continue the conversation:
Talking about race with young children is hard, but it’s easier if you know what you are talking about. This important, ongoing work– especially for white educators.
- Black Lives Matter Booklist for Adults
- Get inspired and educated by educator and diversity trainer Jane Elliott
- Anti-Racism resources for all ages
- School Colors Podcast
- Integrated Schools Podcast
Talk about it
Children are not too young to talk about race, prejudice, and racism. But it’s hard to know where to start and how to answer hard questions.
- They’re Not Too Young to Talk About Race
- Age by age guide for talking about race
- How to talk to young children about the Black Lives Matter Guiding Principles by educator Laleña Garcia
- Talking About Race web portal from the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History
- Anti-Racism for Kids 101
- Resources for talking about racialized violence with children from the Center for Racial Justice in Education
Show or make a video
Create a video for your students if you are not comfortable having these conversations via video chat. Talk about recent events, talk about what the words protest and activist mean, or read a book that can facilitate a conversation on race and racism. If you are not able to create your own video, show one that achieves the same goals.
- Woke Kindergarten Read Alouds
- Black Lives Matter Read-Alouds
- Show a clip from the CNN/Sesame Street Town Hall
- Alike and Different from Daniel Tiger
- What is Racism from Queer Kids Stuff
- Black parents explain to their children how to deal with police
Read a book (or share a booklist)
Books are amazing conversation starters. There is no perfect book to explain race and racism, but there are a lot of books that inspire
- 50 board books featuring faces of color
- Picture books about racial inequality by age
- 13 Children’s books about race and diversity
- Black boy joy picture books
- Black Girl Magic: 33 Picture Books Featuring Black Female Protagonists
Implement Anti-Bias and BLM Curricula
- Teaching for Change Early Childhood and Elementary Resources
- Understanding Anti-Bias Education: Bringing the Four Core Goals to Every Facet of Your Curriculum
- Teaching Young Children about Race from Teaching for Change
- Early childhood resources for BLM at schools
If your child’s teacher hasn’t approached this topic in the last week or so, feel free to send them this post!
For more resources and ways to support children during these challenging times, check out our previous post, Helping Children During Unrest .
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