To be an early care and education professional is to be an activist. It is our job and our joy to foster young children’s healthy sense of self and sense of belonging, to teach fairness and empathy. It is also our job to center the voices of Black and Indigenous People of Color whose leadership benefits us all. In 2019, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) affirmed our profession’s commitment to social justice by publishing the Advancing Equity in Early Childhood Education Position Statement.
The position statement reads:
Educators… have a unique opportunity and obligation to advance equity. With the support of the early education system as a whole, they can create early learning environments that equitably distribute learning opportunities by helping all children experience responsive interactions that nurture their full range of social, emotional, cognitive, physical, and linguistic abilities; that reflect and model fundamental principles of fairness and justice; and that help them accomplish the goals of anti-bias education. Each child will
- demonstrate self-awareness, confidence, family pride, and positive social identities;
- express comfort and joy with human diversity, use accurate language for human differences, and form deep, caring human connections across diverse backgrounds;
- increasingly recognize and have language to describe unfairness (injustice) and understand that unfairness hurts;
- have the will and the skills to act, with others or alone, against prejudice and/or discriminatory actions.
We have the opportunity to act against prejudice and discrimination right now, together with young children in our families and communities. The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) week of action provides daily guidance for individuals who have the will to act now in defense of Black lives. Today’s suggestions include donating to a mutual aid fund and volunteering at a local community garden. We have assembled a list of resources for educators engaging children and families in racial justice. Thank you for all that you do.
Helen Frazier is the Institute’s Director of Early Childhood.