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    Day 1: Classroom Communities

    Welcome to Week 2, Day 1 of Room to Grow! These resources promote self-confidence and explore ideas around self-care with children as they interact with their communities. As children learn to feel good about their unique gifts and personalities, they’ll be more equipped to embrace the good that comes with appreciating and valuing diversity so they can feel strong in their own skin! This in turn will help foster a greater sense of compassion and empathy, and will encourage them to advocate for a friend in need.

    Watch and share the video I am Somebody (Giant Song), and download Sing Along!.

    Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gS9xOczDEZY

    Download Printable

    Children “stand tall” when they feel confident in who they are. This happens when diversity is celebrated and a strong sense of self is nurtured. You can start the day with a song, and use these tools to remind children who have moved frequently or are missing their deployed parents to remember their greatness!

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    Day 2: Provider to Parents

    It’s never too early to promote racial understanding in children, and there are multiple ways to engage with children right where they are. As parents and caregivers explore these materials, they will grow in their own comfort when having these discussions, learn that the effort should be ongoing, and remember that we all start somewhere! These resources can help you remind caregivers that even little moments and everyday dialogue can make a big impact.

    Watch Talking With Children and read Never Too Young: Ages and Stages of Racial Understanding 

     

    Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmD3CiNhDV8

    Research shows that even babies notice racial differences, and toddlers and preschoolers show racial biases. Children are sponges—they learn quickly and try to make sense of the rules of their community. They’re gathering information to “paint their world,” and trying to figure out important things such as:

    • Who do I know? Who is a stranger?
    • Who is different? Who is similar to me?
    • Who belongs? Who doesn’t?

     

    As adults, we teach children how to behave in our communities and our cultural groups, and we also teach them about differences. If we stay quiet when children witness racism, our silence can teach them that these interactions are okay.

    Instead, we can help children take care of themselves, stand strong in their own skin, stand together as allies to one another, learn to honor and celebrate differences, and find similarities and connections across all groups. If we can step in and guide children in dealing with challenging race-related situations, we can help them develop a healthier view of themselves, their communities, and the world.*

    *The above information is adapted from “Racial Trauma and Responding to Racism” by Chandra Ghosh Ippen, PhD

    Article

    Never Too Young: Ages and Stages of Racial Understanding

    Never Too Young: Ages and Stages of Racial Understanding

    By Traci Baxley, Ph.D.

    Research shows that children form race-related ideas long before they’re ready to talk about race and racism… awareness of race begins as early as infancy!1 No matter their age, all children collect clues from their experiences to make sense of the world, so early, honest, and age-appropriate conversations really matter. Here’s an age-by-age look at how children’s understanding develops—and why it’s never too early to address racism.

    Infants show a preference for the faces of people from their own racial group as early as six months. Studies show that babies gaze longer and show happy expressions more frequently with people who look like them. Start early by introducing children to people who don’t look like them, and let children see pictures of people with a variety of skin tones and facial features.

    Toddlers use social cues such as body language and facial expressions to make sense of their world. They watch the way adults respond to differences in people, and mimic our attitudes and racial biases without us even realizing it. Research shows that as young as three, toddlers associate some racial groups with negative traits, and they use these associations to develop  their own understanding about the world around them. When your children are toddlers, you can be aware of your own biases and reactions to people who skin color is different from yours, and continue to share books, videos, and music that highlight and celebrate differences.

    Preschoolers are becoming even more observant of differences such as skin color and hair texture, and noticing more and more how other are the same and different from them. Not only do they compare and group people by race, but research shows some children also begin to show a “pro-White” bias—they may begin to include or exclude playmates on the basis of race. Even non-White children may associate White with wealth, power, or beauty. (When my children were this age, I’d make sure to say things like, “Isn’t it amazing how we’re all so different!”)

    Kindergartners and first graders are beginning to notice that race is often a taboo topic. At this age, children may continue to include and exclude peers based on race. They are more aware of disturbing news, and they often ask questions about it, so it’s a great opportunity to have meaningful conversations about race and racism. It’s not uncommon for a child to say that someone who looks different from them looks “weird.” (Before getting into more conversation, you can ask questions like “What makes you say that?” or “Why do you think so?” so I better understand where these thoughts came from.)

    As soon as children can ask questions, support their natural curiosity by answering them, even the most difficult ones (and it’s okay to say you want to think about their question for a while). Let them know that it’s okay to notice skin color and to talk about race. The idea is to make differences normal… and good!


    1Goodman, M. E. (1952). Race awareness in young children; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2566511/

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    Day 3: Fun With Families

    Download Printable

    Today is all about helping parents playfully engage with their children. We can take care of ourselves, together, and parents and children can have fun while incorporating self-care for everyone in the family. This resource will help you remind military families that even little moments and everyday routines can make a big impact.

    Download Joyful Moments!

    The cards reflected in this printable resource can be cut out and shared with families celebrating self-care. As you share with caregivers, you may suggest:

    • Cutting out the cards and distributing them to different family members who can ‘gift’ them to each other!
    • Placing the cards in a bowl, and taking one out each evening for a moment of family time!
    • Keep them on a refrigerator so that everyone remembers a few different ways to stay connected!
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    Day 4: Professional Practice

    Racism is devastating to both individuals and groups, so approaching conversations with appropriate levels of empathy, knowledge, and understanding is key to building a more equitable society.  You’ll learn strategies to explore the importance of moving towards equity, and this webinar will help enrich your commitment to this lifelong journey, no matter where you first began.

    Watch the webinar The ABCs of Racial Literacy.

    Throughout this course you will notice an occasional use of the word anti-racist to refer to a person who actively opposes racism and promotes racial tolerance.

    Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLsx59AOBu0

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    Day 5: Questions and Reflections

    The experiences children have caring for themselves and others is shaped by the modeling of the adults in their world. As we grow to understand the powerful ways we can contribute to how children and families build community, we can reflect on our own growing understanding of identity and care. When we know who we are, we can engage with the world in compassionate, clear ways! 

    Please take a few moments to reflect on lessons from this week.

    1. What was one important idea raised by the resources this week?
    2. Why do you consider that idea important?
    3. What steps will you take to continue learning? What is one concrete goal you can set for yourself?
    4. How can you help children have a strong sense of self if their family is experiencing deployments or moving?

    A 2nd grade student asked me to help find a friend during recess.  I said that I forgot what that friend looked like.  He said, “You forget what their skin looks like.”  (The student we were looking for did have a different skin tone than the one asking). I said, “I can’t remember what your friend’s face looks like so I don’t know who I am looking for.” This makes me think further in how I answered and what more we could have talked about.

    -Christie G., Early Childcare Provider

    Congratulations!

    You’ve finished Week 2!