How to Implement an Anti-Bias Curriculum in Preschool Programs

Smiling teacher and preschoolers in classroom
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An anti-bias curriculum aims to give all preschoolers a sense of belonging while nurturing respect for diversity. Preschool teachers who use an anti-bias curriculum want all students to feel successful and empowered without being saddled with stereotypes or harmful comments. Turning the theory of no biases and stereotypes into a reality in the classroom happens when a preschool teacher takes control of her own actions and the activities and materials within the classroom.

1 Analyze the Environment

The preschool classroom environment is a starting point for implementing anti-bias curriculum. You need images on the wall, books and other materials that are free of bias. The materials should depict people from different backgrounds based on ethnicity, race, social status, economic background and gender. Those individuals should be portrayed in a positive light rather than a negative or stereotypical way. Give the preschoolers access to leaders from different minority groups who pushed for equality and justice. Discard any materials that show bias, and replace them with more suitable materials.

2 Research Existing Biases

Find out what biases already exist in your classroom. This gives you a starting point for planning activities. Reflect on your own biased opinions to change your thinking. Getting feedback from your colleagues can help. Find out what your students think about different groups or backgrounds through observation and questioning. Listen for biased comments or actions, such as excluding a child with an accent or saying that girls can't play a particular game. Ask questions that could reveal bias, such as, "What is the difference between girls and boys?" Another option is showing pictures of different people, such as someone from a different race, a homeless person or a person in a wheelchair, as a discussion starter. You might ask what that person is capable of doing or how they would do everyday activities.

3 Build on Teachable Moments

The preschoolers in your class will give you plenty of opportunities to teach anti-bias information in the classroom. When a biased action or comment happens, jump on that teachable moment to help your students develop healthier thoughts. Dolls or puppets work well as a tool for working through the situation. If you hear a child say a boy can't play with dolls because they are girl toys, re-enact that conversation with a set of puppets. Ask the kids how the puppets might feel in that situation. You might also do an extension activity related to the bias. For example, if a student showed a bias against a person who is deaf, have the kids wear earplugs so they get a sense of how it feels to not hear. In the gender bias situation, let the boys and girls in the class do something that is typically considered either boyish or girlish.

4 Plan Anti-Bias Activities

You don't have to wait for a teachable moment to implement anti-bias activities. Preschoolers need repeated exposure to the anti-bias curriculum for it to be effective. Activities that focus on building self-awareness and pride based on personal traits and background are part of the curriculum. These activities might focus on what makes each child unique, such as a self-portrait that highlights features or a poster that shows each child's traits and interests. Help students spot bias in the real world and act to correct it. You might write a letter to a book publisher that consistently only uses white children in illustrations, for example. Role playing is another effective way to teach preschoolers about bias. Have them act out situations to help them learn how to handle bias. The National Association for the Education of Young Children warns against what it calls "tourist curriculum," in which you throw in a lesson here and there about a particular culture without integrating the anti-bias curriculum into everyday teaching.

Based in the Midwest, Shelley Frost has been writing parenting and education articles since 2007. Her experience comes from teaching, tutoring and managing educational after school programs. Frost worked in insurance and software testing before becoming a writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education with a reading endorsement.