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For Parents: A Guide to Teaching Your Children About Race

By Mary Holroyd, Early Childhood Educator

For the PGUMC Church & Society Committee


Early childhood educators know that by age 3 children are aware of differences in language, skin color and culture. So, in a child’s early years, your focus needs to be on increasing your child’s knowledge about similarities and differences in their world. Parents need to ensure their children see as many different kinds of people, places, and things as they possibly can. Being exposed to a richly varied world helps young children learn to naturally accept, appreciate and respect all the differences in life, including their own. Growing up in a diverse environment allows them to not be frightened by differences, but to embrace and expect them.


Here are three simple things you can do to help you on this important journey with your child:

  1. Increase your preschooler’s knowledge about similarities and differences among their own peers. You can achieve this by helping your child be aware of other children’s different family structures, foods, celebrations and cultural traditions. As adults, we set an example by talking about, supporting, understanding, and valuing diversity.  

  2. Acknowledge your child’s curiosity about differences. Young children will often ask pointed questions about things like skin color and dress. It’s important to answer in a way that shows respect for diversity, but in a way that’s not a big deal, naturally and simply put. “Yes, her hair is different from yours. It’s pretty, isn’t it?”

  3. Make their play diverse. Your child learns through play. Toys and other things that children play with reflect culture and provide insight into the norms and values of society. Adults, evaluate toys to make sure that they reflect cultural diversity and don’t reflect a cultural bias. For example, try to include dolls of different skin colors and genders as well as blocks and wheel toys-- for both girls and boys. 


 Our children come into this world with an innate openness. As we get older, it gets harder to unlearn the fear of differences we’ve developed in our lives. Read more here about how to encourage diversity in your and your child’s life. Our children are our hope for a better tomorrow. Let’s help them learn to love, respect, and enjoy life’s awe-inspiring diversity. 


Here are more resources for white parents to raise anti-racist children:


Articles to read:


Videos to watch:

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