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Anti-Bias Activities For Tots? Do We Really Need Them?

Updated: Nov 10, 2023

Believe it or not, I've recently heard about two early childhood professionals in advisory roles who told a prospective student that anti-bias specialties aren't needed in higher education settings.

Who's world do they live in?! Not mine.

In my world, racial tensions should be addressed and examined through early childhood education. In my world, this is the most effective way to make changes because 80% of the brain's capacity to learn new things is developed before the age of 3.

Just sayin'. Since I've noticed the blatant lack of materials and ideas for toddler anti-bias education I decided that instead of complaining, I should start working on some myself. After all, I've had both the training and the experience!

What is anti-bias education?

As defined by Louise Derman Sparks and the Anti-Bias Task Force, there are 4 goals to consider.

Goal 1: Identity

This goal means supporting children to feel strong and proud of who they are without needing to feel superior to anyone else. It means children will learn accurate, respectful language to describe who they and others are. Teachers will support children to develop and be comfortable within their home culture and within the school culture.

Goal 2: Diversity

This goal means guiding children to be able to think about and have words for how people are the same and how they are different. It includes helping children feel and behave respectfully, warmly, and confidently with people who are different from themselves. It includes encouraging children to learn both about how they are different from other children and about how they are similar. A basic premise in anti-bias education is “We are all the same. We are all different. Isn’t that wonderful!

Goal 3: Justice

This goal is about building children’s innate, budding capacities for empathy and fairness, as well as their cognitive skills for thinking critically about what is happening around them. It is about building a sense of safety, the sense that everyone can and will be treated fairly.

Goal 4: Activism,

Goal 4 is about giving children tools for learning how to stand up to hurtful and unfair biased behavior based on any aspect of social identity.

My Goals

My own personal goal for any anti-bias experience is that children learn to work together to solve problems and that they learn to understand and even celebrate each other’s differences.

So for the next 9 weeks, I’ll be giving you nine month's worth of ideas that you can use with very young children to get them thinking about fairness, differences, acceptance and even activism!

Next week, we’ll be focusing on musical activities that promote anti-bias thinking in tots and the entire family and/or group. So if you want that article to come to you effortlessly, join us and stay in contact here.

I want to leave you with one great family song that kind of says it all. I want you to have something you can use right away.

And one more, just for fun!! Parent's you deserve a chuckle!

Thanks for reading and have a super great day! If you want to know what to do when your child tattles or get the exact words to use in many common situations, check out my 22-page slideshow, How To Get Your Kids To Listen Without Yelling Or Time-Outs! It's free for community members.

Nanci J Bradley is an early childhood and family educator, author, teacher, SELF-care facilitator, family aerobics instructor, and an all-around fun-loving person. She believes in the power of sleep, healthy eating, lifelong learning, and most of all, PLAY! She studied early childhood ed at Triton College and received her BS in education in 1986 from NIU. She received her MA in human development from Pacific Oaks College in 2011. She lives and teaches in Madison WI.

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