Open Discussion Forum

Expand all | Collapse all

Fostering respect across differences

  • 1.  Fostering respect across differences

    Posted 09-03-2019 06:05 PM
    How do you help children learn to ask questions in a respectful way?  It's great that children are curious about skin color, language, disabilities, different kinds of families and all sorts of human differences, not so great that they loudly ask why someone "talks funny" "has such a big nose" or "has that weird thing on their leg".  I feel that it's important that children get to be curious about their fellow human beings and get more information about them, but there are ways to ask that are hurtful and other ways that are respectful.  How do you help children begin to gain the skills they need to get information in ways that recognize each person's humanity and right to be treated well?  


    ------------------------------
    [Meg] [Thomas]
    [Early childhood consultant
    Co-facilitator for Diversity and Equity Interest Forum
    [St Paul ] [MN]
    ------------------------------


  • 2.  RE: Fostering respect across differences

    Posted 09-12-2019 11:36 PM
    I would say embed being respectful into daily learning. For my 4 and 5 year olds we practice ways to speak to each other nicely and to be respectful when asking questions. The modeling approach BEFORE they in the situation helps them see how to ask questions and listen when people are responding. I have had children tell me my hair is weird (I have my sides shaved and several colors in it) and we go through a nicer way to say that Ms. Tessie has hair different than them, we read a book about hair likes mines and we talked about how it was ok to be different and how to ask questions when we wanted to know something. Towards the end of the year they usually pick it up better and while they may end up being rough around the edges because they are still little kids, they sound a bit kinder and they think before asking.

    ------------------------------
    Temesha (Ms. Tessie) Ragan
    Family Child Care IF Facilitator
    Perfect Start Learning
    Family Child Care Provider
    Edwards, CA
    ------------------------------



  • 3.  RE: Fostering respect across differences

    Posted 09-13-2019 09:25 AM
    Hi Temesha,
    Thanks for your reply.
    It sounds like you are very intentional about not only teaching children to be respectful of others, but also to help them apply that respect to discussions of differences between people.  It also sounds like you welcome their interest in all kinds of differences.  I love that you follow up with books and other resources that help answer the question behind the language that wasn't so very respectful.  And it's great that you don't expect perfection.  Do you think it helps that as a Family Child Care provider you are more likely to have the children with you for longer than 1 or 2 years?   (I'm making an assumption about your business there-but that's true of most of the family child cares I know)
    warmly,

    ------------------------------
    [Meg] [Thomas]
    [Early childhood consultant
    Co-facilitator for Diversity and Equity Interest Forum
    [St Paul ] [MN]
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: Fostering respect across differences

    Posted 09-13-2019 07:06 PM
    Meg,

    I also agree with Temesha that teaching how to be respectful in general (to their friends and adults and family) spills over into being able to respectfully talk with children about their differences.  I had a child come new to my program who needed speech services, and one of the children, after playing with him for awhile, said, "You don't talk like us", but then they both went on playing as if nothing had happened.  The child was just making an observation, and it wasn't disrespectful; it was just his observation. It didn't affect their friendship.
    Part of our curriculum is to have visitors come and talk about what they do. It is always something that goes along with the curriculum, such as we have a pet groomer come one day and a vet another day during our "pet" study.  The children learn how to ask questions to the professional.  I think learning how to ask people questions helps them to be able to ask a person who is different a meaningful question.  I have always been impressed at the questions the children come up with to ask the visitors to our program.  Learning how to do this helps them in other areas when asking questions.  People with differences don't like to be ignored.  They like to be asked questions so they can respond and interact. As long as the question is genuine, children typically do it right.

    ------------------------------
    DeAnn Jones
    Co-Facilitator for the Family Child Care Interest Forum
    Discovery Place Child Care, LLC
    Bozeman, MT
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: Fostering respect across differences

    Posted 09-16-2019 08:39 PM
    I have been an active proponent of anti-bias teaching approaches throughout my career. There are a few powerful words and phrases that are my Go To's.
    "Some" is how we explain that, yes there are connections between certain people and foods and music, but that these are not solid rules. "Some cats DO chase mice." It acknowledges the patterns they are just beginning to see in the world, while stopping these from becoming full-fledged stereotypes that lead to prejudices.

    Another is to embrace the idea of learning new things about people. I exclaim things like, "Wow, thank you for teaching me how your family says Dog!" This method has turned around some children who previously expressed clear bias, such as saying they "hate it when people talk Chinese." After a few weeks of proactive excitement about LEARNING some new things, that child was smiling when telling me, "Look, I know how to say it too!"

    This is related to my other favorite phrase. When they say, "That's a funny name, ha ha!" I say, "Oh I guess you never heard it before."  By planting the idea of diversity being a world full of stuff we can learn about and enjoy, we undo the mistrust that can become embedded in the moments where someone is stuck on what's different between us.

    Overall, the biggest idea is to start with diversity around them, diversity in the classroom or community. Even diversity in hairstyles is a place to begin building their repertoire of HOW we respectfully explore same and different among people. Do a lot of work with simple differences that are not associated with much bias. When some of the tone has been set, time to start talking about skin colors and hair types of your baby dolls etc. Enjoy the journey!

    ------------------------------
    Mars April Caulton
    Education Coordinator,
    Mary Crane Centers
    Chicago IL
    ------------------------------