Anti-Racism for Mostly White Preschool?
January 22, 2021 9:15 AM   Subscribe

We live in a pretty white area and some parents at our preschool have volunteered to help build some curriculum that can bring anti-racist teaching into the school. What works for ages 3-4-5, especially if the kids are mostly of a white/homogeneous background?

The school is very open to introducing some new curriculum, and we're starting by proposing a "theme week" curriculum with books and activities (with the understanding that this is an ongoing issue that needs to be covered at all times, not just in a theme week, but that's what the staff has been willing to start with).

A lot of the curricula I see online for this kind of thing seems to sort of assume you're working with a more diverse classroom so you can talk about differences within the class, but the county we are in is 91% White, 4% Asian, 3% Hispanic, and 1% Black. The preschool is almost all White. I believe 1 student is Asian.

What books/activities/framings work well to teach anti-racism for this kind of school group?

I'm especially interested in hearing from parents with kids this age about what they've learned that's "stuck" with them, and been successful in teaching anti-racist thinking at this age.
posted by yearly to Education (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You can check out the ByUs Box - (co?) founded by a Mefite!
posted by brilliantine at 9:29 AM on January 22, 2021 [6 favorites]

This is a good idea and that box looks promising, but I would urge some restraint with trying to say "what works" and has "stuck" with preschoolers. There is probably no good evidence one way or the other, both because this is a fairly new educational area and it is incredibly difficult to evaluate what works or doesn't work with preschoolers. There is also a high potential for serious backlash from parents who disagree with the concept.

The theme week seems like a good way to introduce the concept, but I would recommend explaining it as "here is some promising new curriculum that we are going to try out and see how it works for our students" instead of as "we are committed to using this tool to teach anti-racism to preschoolers because we think it's important". The first is less likely to freak out parents who are on the fence about the concept and is probably more accurate anyway as you will likely need to adapt the material for practical use. I personally agree there are a lot of important lessons preschoolers can learn related to anti-racism, but a overly-dogmatic approach could easily backfire due to parental defensiveness. Good luck!
posted by JZig at 11:31 AM on January 22, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: There are a lot of great books, guest speakers, activities, etc, but I suggest you interrogate whether any 'curriculum' can address the fact that this preschool is segregated. Kids learn from example not from what we tell them. This preschool sets an example of segregation being OK. I'm not saying that to be mean, and there may be many structural reasons that are difficult to control (and probably a surprising number that administrators and parents COULD control, such as which preschool we pick) but it's reality.

(I sent my kid to over 9 different schools and preschools over the years trying to find the 'best' school to help wit her undiagnosed autism. Looking back, some were segregated, some were integrated, so I can understand that there are a range or reasons we make these decisions. Still, if your aim is to instill anti-racist values for your child, it's helpful to be realistic about what happens when white parents choose to send their kids to segregated schools)
posted by latkes at 4:37 PM on January 23, 2021 [4 favorites]

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