Children are aware at a young age that color, language, gender, and physical ability differences are connected with privilege and power. They learn by observing the differences and similarities among people and by absorbing the spoken and unspoken messages about those differences. Racism, sexism, and prejudice towards handicaps have a profound influence on their developing sense of self and others.
Anti-bias approach is a constructive methodology to reduce prejudice and endorse comprehensiveness. Because children live in a diverse and complex world, they interact daily with people different from themselves. By using anti-bias approach, children can develop and strengthen their self and group identities, while interacting respectfully with others in a multicultural environment. One of the goals of high quality child care programs is to help children become sensitive to issues of bias such as cultural or religious differences, society, race, physical or mental ability, etc., and to develop anti-bias skills.
Diversity represents the richness and uniqueness of human life. There are many reasons to include consideration of diversity as a central theme in early childhood programs. When you value diversity, you maximize the positive impact of your program for all your children. You will also prepare children to fight bias and discrimination directed toward themselves or other members of society.
Young children are aware of diversity; hence, you need to be prepared to address it in your work with them. Treat their questions and comments seriously and respectfully, just as you would if they were expressing curiosity about nature or other facts. Young children also acquire attitudes and values from their families and society about which differences are positive and which are not. How you respond to the ideas they express will influence the feelings and judgments they will form. Help the children develop self esteem and positive self image about themselves.
Educationalists who seek to confront stereotypes and biases can provide students with realistic, solid information and encouraging interpersonal experiences. Teachers can also learn how to efficiently tackle biased behavior when it occurs. An all-inclusive program of staff development, curricular materials and school assessment tools can help teachers, students, parents and other community members build and nourish a unified society where positive and just relationships are recognized across cultural barriers.
The following qualities are imbibed in a child who thrives in a community where anti-bias approach is practiced:
- A sense of justice and equality.
- Belief and trust in others.
- Respect and regard for different cultures, religions, races and communities.
- Children can be proud of their own cultures and heritages.
- A belief that all children can be curious about and learn to accept human similarities and differences.
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