Need some help! Diversity training for 4/5 year-olds! Good, bad, or just right?

Hi all,

This is kind of a personal request, but something that is also of interest to me professionally. Ultimately, I think what I find out here will be of value to others, and I’ll share everything that I learn and find.

That being said, other than some great sites that extol the virtues, lessons and approachs to discussing diversity, different, inclusion and discrimination with children, I’m at a bit of a loss. I’ll provide links to the articles that I’ve found useful below, but here’s the scenario.

I’m wondering about the appropriateness of doing diversity/”difference” training with 4/5 year olds in a Kindergarten setting. A parent with a family therapy background is going into my child’s school to provide this training and I’m concerned about her approach, but I don’t know enough about what’s appropriate at this age, or what the education curriculum/approach recommends (still searching there, mostly have found policy recommendations, etc., but not curriculum models/approaches). She’s not being entirely forthcoming about her approach or pedagogy, but here’s an overview of what she plans to do in her next session with the kids (her first session focused on safety in the classroom, both physical and emotional and seemed fine):

“This will be an opportunity to get to know one another better and explore similarities and differences between each other, the intention being that we all have similarities and we can also celebrate the differences we have. I will start with a general discussion of differences and similarities to get the kids thinking about this topic, I may ask a question like, “if we were all the same person what would the world be like” . We will go through some exercises where we stand in different groups of similarities, for example “who has brown hair” “who is four” “who has a sibling” ect. We’ll put our hands together and notice what’s similar and what’s different. My hope is to get some photos taken of their similarities and differences and put some of this on the board in the hallway along with the drawing from today.

If I can find a good book that relates to this topic I may read that as well.”

My concern here is if we’re pointing out differences in the class, doesn’t that become easy fodder for kids to pick on each other? Is it the right approach? Does it make sense to highlight differences on a hallway board? Is that too much? Am I nuts here?

I’m wondering if you have ideas, resources (got a book to recommend, as she asks above?), or possibly people you could refer me to who do work in this area and have expertise I could tap into to ensure an informed discussion happens at my son’s school.

Thanks and feel free to let me know if you think I’m over the top with my concern! 🙂

Links and an interesting video:

I’ve scratched the surface and haven’t read all of these in depth, but a quick scan shows promise, so I thought I’d include it here:

Interesting short documentary, interviewing young children about race and diversity:

Learning About Diversity – Parents – Sesame Street

Beyond the Golden Rule | Teaching Tolerance

Talking to Kids About Racism and Diversity

How Parents Can Teach Kids About Diversity — National Crime Prevention Council

Cultural Diversity – Teaching Kids about Race and Cultural Diversity

Talking with Kids About Diversity | Child and Family Mental Health

NNCC Helping Children Deal with Differences

Teaching Children About Diversity . Expert Q&A . PBS Parents | PBS

Talking to your Children about Diversity

Should we talk to young children about race? « The Berkeley Blog

Talking to your Child about Hatred and Prejudice 

Talking to Kids about Disabilities

parenthropology: Talking and Listening to Kids about Difference (3)

Talking to Our Children About Racism & Diversity – The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

Teaching Your Child Tolerance

Talking to children about diversity: Onset of formal education

How to talk to your children about bias and prejudice

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Communications in social services/social change, immigration, diversity & inclusion in Toronto. Wannabe librarian, interested in nonprofit tech innovation.

Communications in social services/social change, immigration, diversity & inclusion in Toronto. Wannabe librarian, interested in nonprofit tech innovation.

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