“How do young children see and understand diversity?” A post on Our Diversity x Young Children by Exchange fellow Cassandra Schmid

By Cassandra Schmid

My greatest passion as an educator is to provide an environment where each child can express who they are –  their differences as well as the connections they share with others. I entered the field of early childhood education specifically because at that age children are curious and truthful. Young children are honest with themselves and others. They can provide a view of the world that removes mental noise and focus on the importance of being heard, building connections, and understanding the environment that surrounds them. Much can be learned from the curiosity and kindness of children, as we are not born with prejudices: they are learned. 

How do young children see and understand diversity? In my role as a fellow, in partnership with the VTAEYC Exchange, I hope to shine a light on that question. Teaching and engaging with young children about diversity can come across as a daunting task. However, I think that you can incorporate these topics into the lives of young children, as well as your own, with an approachable, interactive, and broadening lens. The intent of this blog is to dive into different facets of diversity and provide a variety of resources from which to garner knowledge that can be exchanged among colleagues, peers, families, youth, the community and beyond. I welcome you to contribute in the conversation. 

To begin, let’s define diversity. What does diversity mean to you? It is a term with an ever evolving definition. Currently, it encompasses race, ethnicity, gender, sexual diversity and orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies. Over the coming months each of the components of diversity will be explored in depth. For this first entry I will be focusing on the broad scope of diversity and an introduction to some resources that address the entirety of diversity.


Children’s Materials

We Need Diverse Books™ is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and a grassroots organization of children’s book lovers that advocates essential changes in the publishing industry to produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people.” Under the resource tab there is an extensive array of resources to find children’s books addressing diversity, content for parents, teachers, and librarians and so much more. This is a great resource to use to bring diversity education into the lives of young children and yourself. 

We Need Diverse Books: diversebooks.org


Podcast

“Welcome to Activist, You! where YOU can be an activist TOO! Activist, You!” is a brand new Kids & Family podcast focusing on social justice. Every episode our host Lindz Amer interviews different kid and youth activists, learning about their dedicated social justice topic, and how and why they became activists!”

Kids Listen: Activist, You!


Children’s Book Read-Alouds 

Lovely

by Jess Hong

“Lovely explores a world of differences that all add up to the same thing: we are all lovely!” 

Here is a YouTube video of the reading of this book. 

 Lovely by Jess Hong – YouTube

 

All Are Welcome

by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman 

“We’re part of a community.

Our strength is our diversity.

A shelter from adversity. 

All are welcome here.”

Here is a YouTube video of the reading of this book.

Read Aloud: All Are Welcome By: Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman – YouTube


Research Based Publications  

  • This resource is a compilation of academic institutions’ definition of diversity. Though they all vary slightly, they all share the core foundation that diversity is to be acknowledged and to include the otherness that makes everyone unique though race, ethnicity, gender, sexual diversity and orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies.

definitions_of_diversity_various_institutions.doc (live.com)

  • Promoting Inclusion and Diversity in Early Years Settings : A Professional Guide to Ethnicity, Religion, Culture and Language

By Chandrika Devarakonda

“Supporting professionals to promote diversity and inclusion in early years settings, this book promotes awareness and understanding of the needs of children and families from diverse backgrounds, and provides the steps that practitioners can take to enhance their learning and help them reach their full potential.”

This book can be read for free through the link below. Select “Read Online” and the book is available. Any other download option requires login information. 

ProQuest Ebook Central – Detail page (uvm.edu)


Community Engagement

The Vermont Department of Economic Development has an extensive list of resources and tools on the Diversity and Inclusion page addressing all facets of diversity and action steps for inclusion into the Vermont community. 

Diversity and Inclusion | ThinkVermont


Get Involved with VTAEYC

You can explore news and resources on the VTAEYC site and follow VTAEYC on facebook and instagram.

Cassandra Schmid is a VTAEYC Exchange Fellow with a focus on Our Diversity x Young Children. Click here to learn more about Cassandra and the Fellowship program, and click here to learn more about the VTAEYC Exchange.