Thinking, planning and teaching through an Anti-bias/Anti-racist (ABAR) lens is essential in order to provide every child with equitable access to learning environments and experiences that reflect who they are and the world they live in. An ABAR approach also serves to support each child as they construct their understanding of the complexities of our society, our relationships, and our interconnected world. Teaching this way guides educators to grow healthy, confident and justice seeking youngsters, while contributing to the creation of a world that is inclusive, equitable and just for all.
In the United States bias, privilege and power are built into our society and systems, impacting the development and lives of all children and their families. Research shows that young children are aware of biases at surprisingly young ages (Gilliam et al., 2016; Iruka at al., 2020). This early awareness impacts their sense of self, their sense of others, and their understanding of privilege and power. Fortunately, young children are very capable of engaging in concrete experience, reflective dialogue, and collaborative planning to take action to address unfairness, inequities, and injustice in their communities (Beneke, 2021). Teaching through an ABAR perspective supports children to make sense of their observations, embrace multiple perspectives, and develop their own voice.
ABAR education is deeply meaningful in the early years, as children’s first school experiences are often their first community membership outside of their homes and immediate community. School is often a place where children expand their social circles and develop a broader view of the world. Therefore, it is important that we provide opportunities and plant foundational seeds that embrace and respond to children’s awareness of injustice and natural empathy and sense of fairness. It is also important that early childhood educators plant the seeds of life-long learning. Teaching in this way ensures every child’s right to:
- become their fullest selves
- become culturally-aware people
- develop a full sense of fairness and justice
- take action and seek equity and inclusion for all.