Inclusion, equity, and diversity is needed in our schools, homes, and community. When done successfully, we teach children how to celebrate their identity.
According to the article “Racial Identity, Academic Identity, and Academic Outcomes for Students of Color,” “Aspects of an academic identity and an academic self-concept are strongly related to and have an effect on the academic performance of students. Awareness of race and the ways in which structural/institutional racism affects students of color is key to helping them achieve their full academic potential.” (Howard, 2010)
With that said, all students (especially students of color) need things related directly to them in order to succeed to their full potential. My aim is to aid you and your child with the tools needed to service their continued success.
Here are five ways you can teach inclusion, equity, and diversity in your school, home, or community:
1. Be Aware of Unconscious Bias
Unconscious biases are social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness. Everyone holds unconscious beliefs about various social and identity groups, and these biases stem from one’s tendency to organize social worlds by categorizing.
Examples include the following:
Teachers have preconceived notions about one group of students vs. another.
Teachers saying, “You have good English skills for someone coming from…”
Staff members say, “You live in that part of town? I would never go there,” if the child lives in a part of town that is deemed by society as crime-ridden.
When unconscious biases are made, it makes the person on the receiving end feel alienated. Thus, children are less likely to participate in classroom activities.
2. Be Proactive vs. Reactive
When you see an implicit or unconscious bias occur, you must say something. The more people are allowed to perpetuate unconscious biases in the classroom, the more internal damage a student might experience. Our job is to operate in a proactive mode rather than reacting or putting out fires. The way to lessen the fires within your program is to say something if you see it and teach the staff and children how to lead with inclusion, equity, and diversity.
3. Who are you exposing your children to?
According to Meissner & Brigham, 2001, children as early as three months old can distinguish between their own race faces but not other races. This information shows that, at an early age, children are able to differentiate between caregivers, parents, and family members of the same race. If you are only exposing your children to the same race of people, there may be ramifications that lead to non-exposure. Exposing your children to other races creates trust among other races for your child. Exposing your child to diversity creates a level of comfort among people who look different from what they do. Supporting the need for diversity in childcare settings for staff and children is important for your child even at an early age.
4. Anti-Biased Books
There are many children’s books that promote diversity, inclusion, and equity. Books that show children of color in a positive light. BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color) authors have been promoting these messages of the importance of love for everyone’s differences and uniqueness. Books like You Come from Greatness, Hues of You, Callie the Service Dog, and Crowns of Glory are just a few to have in your program.
5. Anti-Biased Curriculum
Let’s get away from our Black History Month consisting of a coloring sheet of Martin Luther King or Rosa Parks. Let’s celebrate Black History outside of the month of February by displaying pictures on the walls of your home or classroom of positive role models, bringing in or visiting cultural community events, and teaching children the truth about history.
In conclusion, inclusion, equity, and diversity in school, home, and community help children become collaborative learners. These practices help educators, parents, and community members strive toward a common goal, one that embodies celebrating every child’s identity.