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Why & How to Talk to Young Kids About Race

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Contrary to the common belief that young children “don’t see race," a mountain of research evidence confirms that racial awareness starts early. We know that within a few months of birth, babies prefer own-race faces, and that by roughly age 3 kids start to form judgments about others based on racial differences. And by kindergarten, kids perceive that different racial groups have different social status.

As caregivers, we teach our kids about race whether we do so intentionally or not. But we’re not the only ones teaching them. Kids learn about race every day and from everywhere - in their neighborhoods and schools; from media, books and toys; and from everyone they interact with, including in their homes.

Given the pervasiveness of the racial messages kids are exposed to and the damage many of those messages can cause, the question for caregivers is not whether we should communicate - thoughtfully and deliberately - with even the youngest children about race. Of course we should. The question really is: how can we do that work well?

Join us for a conversation about why and HOW to talk to young children about race. As always, come with your questions, comments and strategies to share. And please spread the word about this conversation on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Dr. Nicol Russell

Nicol Russell currently serves as Vice President of Implementation Research for Teaching Strategies, LLC. She has been a teacher, a school administrator, a Head Start State Collaboration Director, and a State-level administrator for the Arizona Department of Education. She currently serves as an at-large Board member for the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and as a member of the ReadOn Arizona State Advisory Board. Nicol's research interests include the inequities in education for young Indigenous and Black children.
Dr Nicol Russell Zoom