Published Date: 07/06/20
When searching for preschool, it’s important to consider the school’s philosophical approach to each childhood education and the curriculum a school uses. Most people are familiar with Montessori (check out the pros and cons here) and the Reggio Emilia and Waldorf approaches have gained popularity in recent years. Not every school utilizes an overarching philosophy in preschool, but all use a curriculum to develop and execute lesson plans. Some schools purchase curricula, like the Creative Curriculum or Mother Goose Time, and others create their own.
“After the age of 9, racial attitudes tend to stay constant unless the child experiences a life-changing event,” says Dr. Frances Aboud, notable researcher and psychology professor. That is why it’s critical that all preschools utilize an anti-bias curriculum in addition to their existing one. While more and more preschools are adopting it, parents can help facilitate widespread use by inquiring about it on tours an asking that it be implemented into their preschool.
What is an anti-bias curriculum?
An anti-bias curriculum is an approach to teaching that helps children understand, recognize, and embrace differences among people. It has clearcut objectives that work to prevent stereotyping and bias, confront prejudices, and address injustices. It incorporates diverse perspectives and strives to create an inclusive community.
While some parents believe that children don’t notice race at such a young age, research tells us otherwise. “There is a myth in popular culture that young children are “colorblind” or don’t notice race. By this logic, children are “blank slates” who cannot develop racial prejudices until they are explicitly taught to do so. This leads many adults to argue that we should not discuss race with preschoolers because they are “too young,” and even mentioning race will “put ideas in their heads” or “poison their minds.” When young children talk about race or express any bias, it is often either dismissed (“She doesn’t know what she’s saying.”), blamed on parents or other adults (“Someone must have said that at home.”), or only indirectly addressed as general bad behavior (“We don’t say things like that because it hurts people’s feelings.”). However, current psychological research suggests this approach is all wrong,” writes Dr. Erin Winker, an accomplished researcher in the field of race and children.
Objectives of an anti-bias curriculum
When using an anti-bias curriculum in early childhood education, there are specific objectives that create a supportive learning environment for every child in the preschool.
- Identity: Every child will develop and demonstrate self-awareness. Self-awareness is one of the core competencies of social emotional learning. They will have confidence, take pride in their family, and develop positive social and group identities.
- Diversity: Children will be not only recognize diversity, they will be comfortable with it and take joy in it. Every child will be taught to use correct language for the differences in people, be it related to race, ethnicity, religion, or ability. They will develop empathy, another core competency of social emotional learning, and deep human connections.
- Justice: Preschool children will be taught to recognize injustice and unfairness, will understand that unfairness hurts people in various ways, and be given language to describe unfairness when it occurs.
- Activism: Children will be taught the skills needed to speak up against prejudice and discriminatory actions when they witness them. They will be empowered to take action, whether they are alone or with others.
Finding a preschool that utilize an anti-bias curriculum
Your first step to finding a preschool that implements an anti-bias curriculum is to search for one specifically that lists it. You can filter by the anti-bias curriculum when you search our website. If you’re not finding the results you want, ask when you tour a preschool. When childcare providers hear that there is demand for anti-bias education, more will begin incorporating it. Look around at the room and on the bookshelf and take note of what you see. Look for diversity represented in artwork and media, look to see if there are pictures of the children or staff, if they are not present when you visit. If you have a child already enrolled, encourage your preschool director to begin training staff on implementing anti-bias education. You can read more about finding a school that incororates anti-bias education here.
The final word
Anti-bias education is critical from the earliest ages. It extends beyond matters of race and teaches children to embrace diversity in all forms. Children come out of preschool more confident, ready to lead the way, fight injustices, and grow into anti-racist advocates.