Join our virtual book club!

The now classic book, Anti-Bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves, by Louise Derman-Sparks & Julie Olsen Edwards invites early childhood caregivers and educators to grapple with the question: What can we do to raise the next generation of young people who know and are proud of who they are, are able to be in equitable relationship with others, can recognize and name unfairness in the world around them, and are ready to take action to address it?

NAEYC’s Diversity & Equity Education for Adults (DEEA) Interest Forum would like to invite you to our virtual book club as we embark on an informal, 13-week exploration of this question together. Together, we will discuss critical issues in the field–including racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, and ableism–and build community. Join us!

Structure and Guidelines

Open discussion on our Facebook page will begin each week on Monday with a new chapter of the book and will continue throughout the scheduled week. Over the course of each week, the club’s facilitators will moderate the discussion, posting summaries of the chapter and posing open-ended questions to stimulate discussion. Participants are welcome to post their reactions, thoughts, questions or other topics of discussion. In short:

  • All levels of engagement are welcome!
  • Productive, respectful dissent is appropriate
  • Ask questions, post responses, share quotes to participate in discussion
  • Facilitators will post 1-2 questions each session, but other forum members are welcome to post as well.

In addition, we will be hosting a Google Hangout each week so that participants can discuss the book face-to-face.


Monday, Dec. 7th, 8am to Friday, Feb. 19th 2016 at 8pm

Week 1 (December 7-11): Introductions
Week 2 (December 14-18): What is anti-bias education?
Week 3 (December 21-25): Children’s identity development
Week 4 (December 28 – January 1): Becoming an anti-bias teacher
Week 5 (January 4-8): Creating an anti-bias learning community
Week 6 (January 11-15): Learning about culture, language and fairness
Week 7 (January 18-22): Learning about racial identity and fairness
Week 8 (January 25-29): Learning about gender identity and fairness
Week 9 (February 1-5): Learning about economic class and fairness
Week 10 (February 8-12): Learning about family structures and fairness
Week 11 (February 15-19): Learning about different abilities and fairness
Week 12 (February 22-26): Learning about holidays and fairness
Week 13 (February 29 – March 4): Closing


To register, click here.


To view and/or share the event flyer, click here.


Children’s Book Resources from Embrace Race

Hi all,

If you haven’t checked out Embrace Race yet, do!  They’ve got all kinds of resources and support for folks grappling with how to raise kids within the context of structural racism.  This week on their Facebook page, they shared some fantastic book lists.  Check them out:

Thanks, Embrace Race, for providing us with these great resources!

Teaching Consent to Young Children

Happy Real World Wednesday!!! Our favorite day of the week! Today we have the tremendous pleasure of learning from and with Naima Taaj Ajmal Brown.Naima RWW

Naima is an irrevocable believer in the power and potential of early childhood education as a form of activism that can sustain and strengthen community. A first-year teacher in an Early Head Start toddler classroom in East Harlem, she is tirelessly committed to implementing a pedagogy of care in order to effectively support and build partnerships with all who enter her classroom.

Prior to her current position, Naima has worked with young children for over twelve years as a teaching assistant, a performing arts educator, and a one-to-one aide. She has a BA in Sociology & Anthropology and Black Studies from Swarthmore College, and an MA in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. She is also a member of QUIERE, a Teachers College based fellowship program for educators committed to providing high-quality education to learners with disabilities, especially those of immigrant backgrounds.

Given our ongoing conversation this week on the Forum, we are asking Naima to help us understand, “What is consent, and what are some ways we can teach it to young children?”

Here’s Naima’s thoughtful response:

I find the matter of teaching consent to young children to be of the utmost importance for one irreproachable reason: children, like adults, have the right to feel safe in their own bodies. Not only be safe, but feel safe. Caring for children is made up of countless measures that adults take to ensure children’s bodily safety. But what of the interconnectivity between bodily safety and emotional safety? In other words, what can we do to ensure that the children feel safe in their own bodies? How can we show them to use those feelings to not only keep their body safe, but engage with other people in ways that are meaningful and pleasurable?

This is where consent comes in.

Consent has a very simple definition by necessity, and I will specify it slightly for the sake of this conversation: consent is the explicit approval of physical contact with someone else. It is nothing more, and it is certainly nothing less. There are many ways in which I purposely cultivate and enforce a culture of consent in my classroom. As early childhood educators, we’re all intimately familiar with sociocultural pedagogical theory, or the idea that learning is fundamentally a social process; we also know that young learners need repetition and concretization in order to grasp and retain understanding of concepts. This is why I have found that a great time to teach consent is at dismissal. As my learners prepare to leave with their families, I verbally ask them if I may have a hug goodbye. Any number of things can happen at this point. Quite often, the child says yes, or smilingly jumps into my arms, and we share a pleasant hug. Lovely! Sometimes, I receive a flat, verbal “no”, the child hides behind the family member who has come to take them home, or the child physically shrinks away from me. Also lovely! They have effectively communicated to me that they do not give me consent to give them a hug. I then honor their decision by telling them–with the family member(s) looking on–that it’s okay if they don’t want a hug. I give a variety of options, from high-fives to waving. Even if they choose to completely ignore me afterwards, I honor that decision.

Teaching consent in this way has a number of repercussions. It affirms the child’s bodily autonomy, particularly in the face of authority; in other words, it shows them that it is okay to say “no” to undesirable touch, even (and especially) to adults. It honors their feelings and allows them to form the boundary that they want and need to feel safe. It models for them and their families that refusing a hug is not a matter of noncompliance, but rather a perfectly reasonable response that should be actively respected. One of my brightest moments this academic year was watching one of my learners go from classmate to classmate asking them if they wanted a hug, and reacting appropriately when she was given a “yes” or “no”. Success!

Consent can and should be taught, because consent is for everyone!

For additional information on this topic, see:

Microaggressions in Early Childhood

This Real World Wednesday, we have the honor of learning from and with Elena Jaime!Elena RWW

Elena has taught in early childhood and early elementary settings for the past thirteen years. She is passionate about her mission to develop “angelic troublemakers” in the school communities in which she works. Elena’s work is grounded in the belief that young children are capable of developing a critical lens and can engage in reflection and action around anti-bias work. Elena has presented at a number of local and national conferences, and has partnered with teachers across New York City as they work to examine the ways in which they can fully integrate equity work into early childhood curriculums. Elena also co-founded the CARLE Institute for White educators, an institute designed to provide white faculty members with the necessary historical framework, interpersonal skills, and curriculum development strategies they need to teach a diverse student body. Elena teaches second grade at the Chapin School in New York City. Elena received her B.A. in psychology from Wesleyan University and her M.S.Ed in early childhood general and special education from Bank Street College of Education.

Elena wrote this powerful piece about how she used storytelling in the face of a microaggression that happened in her classroom:

Given her experience and expertise, we wanted to ask, “What are microaggressions and why do they matter in early childhood care and education?”

Here’s Elena’s thoughtful response:

As an early childhood educator, I have always valued the importance of creating safe spaces for my students, spaces in which children feel invited to bring their full selves each morning. The Responsive Classroom approach to teaching is an approach that is based on the premise that social-emotional growth and academic success are interdependent. Embedded in this understanding of education is the idea that children learn best when they feel a sense of belonging in a community. This sense of belonging, however, is undermined when a community does not think critically about the ways in which each member’s identity is embraced or marginalized.

Children notice difference. They are hardwired to observe patterns in their world, and as they develop, they begin to ascribe meaning to those differences. They do so by tapping into the messages that are communicated about the ways in which our society values or devalues different identities across race, gender, sexual identity, class, ability, etc. These messages, unless interrupted, become part of the lens they use to understand and interpret their world. As a result, the interactions that the students have with each other and with the adults in their schools and learning communities are infused with those messages. A kindergarten child being told that their skin looks dirty because it is black, a first grader telling her classmate that it is impossible for her to have two moms, or a teacher consistently confusing the two Asian students in her class are examples of moments in which a piece of a person’s identity is marginalized. These acts of marginalization based on a person’s identity have come to be known as microaggressions.

Microaggressions are often described as “small paper cuts” that represent all of the times that someone says or does something that further marginalize you because of your identity. As a queer, Christian, able-bodied, traditionally educated, English-speaking cisgender, woman of color in the United States, I will experience privileges that come with being a member of groups which wield power (political, social, economic, etc.), and I will also experience the marginalization that comes from being a member of groups that do not wield power in my American context.

If, as early childhood educators, we believe in the importance of creating safe learning spaces, where children can take risks, and if this necessitates that each child feels that they belong, then we have a responsibility to interrupt microaggressions that we witness and perpetuate in our learning environments. When we name those experiences for young children, we are helping them develop a lens with which they begin to see identify those moments of marginalization, and in turn, interrupt them. An important piece of this work belongs to the adults who must model what it means to bring their full selves into the classroom. When we do this, we are explicitly sending the message to students that each piece of who they are is valuable and belongs, and that the classroom would not be complete without every last piece.

Thank you, Elena, for this eloquent response and for all of the important work you do every day working with young children and their families.  They are so lucky to have you in their lives!  As are we!

Here are some additional reading on microaggressions: