How to Promote Anti-Racism in Early Childhood
It’s saddening that the number of hate crimes against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders is rising. This is across the Bay Area and the rest of the US.
In the past couple of weeks alone, there have been 2 major mass shootings in America. The shooter in Atlanta deliberately targeted Asian-American women.
Kids Konnect wants all of our Asian-American and Pacific Islander families, teachers and the wider community to feel safe and secure. We see you, we love you and we want to do all that we can to combat hate and racial prejudice.
As early learning educators, we must teach young children anti-racism and encourage them to embrace other cultures and peers who look different to them. It is down to the Kids Konnect community and families to make sure our young children are taught how to recognize racism and how to counter that hate with love, tolerance and respect.
Children’s identities, learning and growth are shaped by the perspectives early childhood educators provide for children in the classroom. Our curricular decisions will affect how young children see the world, themselves and their potential. When teachers and parents proactively tackle racial inequality, children are more likely to stand up against the mistreatment of others as their own identity is affirmed.
We acknowledge that there is no easy way to talk to a young child about race. However, we can still have age appropriate conversations about race and racial inequality. These lessons are more important than ever as children from Asian-American families are now afraid to attend school after the recent rise in hate crimes.
This blog lists a series of activities and widely-available books that early childhood educators and parents can do to encourage anti-racism through empathy, tolerance and identity.
Activities to Encourage Anti-Racism in Early Childhood
What Would You Do Role Play
Teachers and parents can cultivate fairness, equity and social justice-minded children with the “What Would You Do?” activity.
We can introduce a new scenario such as a new classmate being called names because of their skin color. We can then prompt children to answer “what would you do?” to stand up and speak up for the child in the situation.
What’s great about this activity is that it can be as creative as possible. You can provide your child with poster boards, construction paper, glue, scissors (be careful!), markers, crayons and recycled materials so that they can creatively show you their solution.
Relaxation Activity Booklet
Part of anti-racism is creating an atmosphere where young children feel safe and secure. Relaxation and de-stressing is vital to a young child’s social and emotional development. By picking 4 activities your child enjoys (drawing, going outside, reading or listening to music, for example) and putting them into a booklet, your child has something they can use to relax.
What Do You See Scrapbook
Lack of positive representation in culture damages young children of color and their sense of worth. If a black student never sees a black astronaut, they’ll never feel like they can reach for the stars. The “What Do You See” activity helps children by helping them recognize their physical features and personal beauty.
The activity is simple: get a mirror and encourage children to describe their physical attributes with positive adjectives. Then, invite your child to cut out people from diverse magazines and put the cuttings into a scrapbook. They can then use the scrapbook to explore the similarities we share as humans.
Great Books to Encourage Tolerance and Empathy for Young Children
We’re Different, We’re the Same by Bobbi Kates
Featuring beloved Sesame Street characters, this book teaches young children (and adults) that we all have the same needs and desires and our physical differences are what makes the world great. With colorful and charming illustrations, this is an easy and enjoyable way to create empathy and social-justice minded children.
The Proudest Blue: A Story of a Hijab and Family by Ibtihaj Muhammad and S.K. Ali
This story about a young Muslim girl who wears her hijab to school for the first time. It’s an overwhelming day for her and the other students look at her differently for it. But soon the children become curious and admire the young girl. The story delivers a positive message of acceptance and cultural differences. It’s a great tool to answer questions children might have when they come across a hijab for the first time.
Natsumi’s Song of Summer by Robert Paul Weston and Misa Saburi
This book is about the strength of friendship and the power of learning about another person’s experiences. Through Jill and Natsumi’s first summer together, the story explores nature, summer, togetherness and diversity and lets Asian-American and African-American children see themselves represented in a story.
For more books about combating Asian-American racism, click here
Speak Up by Miranda Paul
Speak Up encourages children to find and use their voices to speak up against intolerance and challenge things they think are unfair. This book allows children to realize they can make the world a better place, starting in their classroom!
Kids Konnect and Anti-Racism
We are sickened by the rise in AAPI hate and are grieving for the victims of the Atlanta mass shooting, and victims of the other mass shootings that have taken place in the last 2 week.
We understand that talking to young children about racism can be difficult. This is why Kids Konnect preschools and infant centers are dedicated to creating change and helping build acceptance for other cultures. We recognise we play an influential role in the lives of our students, and we want to take our opportunity to educate early about respect for others.
Kids Konnect will promote anti-racism in our centers by:
- Exposing all children to different cultures through our play-based curriculum that includes food, stories, images around our classrooms, toys, and activities.
- Celebrating our uniqueness as individuals and as part of our communities with lessons about other cultures, for example different holiday celebrations
- Teaching respect for all and promoting love and tolerance
Please Reach Out
To our Asian-American and Pacific Islander families, if you need to talk to someone about any trouble you think your family is facing or are struggling with your mental health, here are some organizations you can talk to for mental health support:
- APISAA Therapist Directory
- Asian Mental Health Project
- Asian American Suicide Prevention and Education – 1-800-273-8255 (TALK); for Asian languages: 1-877-990-8585
- SAMHSA National Hotline – 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
- CALHOPE – CA Warm Line 833-317-HOPE (4673)
If any of our families or staff have heard of, witness or been a victim of a hate crime, please report it to one of the following organizations:
These organizations also have a series of resources dedicated to helping you learn more about other communities.