These debates are best had in elementary school. It’s possible to teach kids about these topics in a way that’s both educationally and socially enriching if teachers have the necessary tools and resources and use developmentally appropriate language and activities.
There are five specific approaches to discussing bias and diversity in the elementary classroom.
Using children’s literature to teach about bias, diversity, and social justice is a great way to get kids thinking about these issues. No matter what kind of book you choose, reading is an integral part of the elementary school curriculum and a seamless approach to addressing a variety of topics, such as bias and the courage it takes to stand up to injustice (such as window books) or affirming a student’s individuality (such as mirror books).
Using the news media to look for stories that bring up these themes is a good idea. Discuss these stories in the classroom and develop other lessons around them. It’s always a good idea to use current events as teaching opportunities. For example, the story of a young boy who was banned from bringing his My Little Pony backpack to school because of bullying, or the level of Misty Copeland, who became the first African American principal dancer in the history of the American Ballet Theater, are both excellent examples.
Teaching anti-bias classes is challenging for educators who already have a lot on their plates. A weekly lesson on identity-based bullying in the primary school classroom is a good idea to improve the classroom climate. Educators can build on social and emotional skill development by teaching lessons on identity, differences, bias, and how to manage discrimination and bullying on an individual and institutional level. Teachers can then go on to these topics.
Give examples that everyone can relate to. To examine issues of social justice and diversity, educators should use children’s fascination with various media such as books, television, toys, and video games. A New Jersey kid who was fed up with just seeing books about white boys and dogs, or a new line of dolls that include people with disabilities, can expose children’s eyes to how bias occurs in the media and the common things they use.
Attempt to find answers: Children should be involved in talks about the disparities that contribute to the problem and the steps that may be taken to remedy it when assisting others (through service learning projects or other volunteer opportunities). While providing meals to the homeless can be helpful, we want to go beyond and impart a social justice perspective and a broader lens to youngsters, for example. As a result, educate students about the negative connotations associated with homelessness while exposing them to the inequities in the housing market.
Ahead of Time
Schools and society need to focus on highlighting systemic racism and educational equity that affects students, as well as the need for education professionals and school leaders to be equipped to do so, according to several prominent national education organizations, including the NEA AERA, AFT, and NCTE. So that our efforts will have a long-term influence, we must begin with our youngest hearts and minds.