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Question
Posted by: worried mom | 2010/02/09

rascism at creche?

is it right to teach 4 year olds that they are different to each other based on the colour of their skin?
How do I deal with this situation without drawing negative attention toward my child at the creche.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Kids will notice such differences between them, just as they notice differences of many sorts between girls and boys, and notice some are tall or short, long-haired or short, black-haired o blonde. good at games or maths or bad at them.
And I don't think it helps to ignore such differences or the likely awareness of them. What matters more is how the teachers and parents respond to differences, which is what makes a big difference between celebrating and enjoying diversity, or teaching kids to be suspicious of or prejudieced towards, others who are different from them in some way.
So I wonder what is reflected in your first sentence. Are kids, in the teaching they meet, learning that they are all special and unique, and differ in a number of interesting ways, but are essentially also the same inside, in their value and loveability. Yes skin colours differ, but the kids inside are not of different value because of that, any more than red-heads are better or worse than brown-haired kids.
If there is suspect teaching, and a gentle discussion with the teachers should clarify this, I think qwerty is right about how to deal with this.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Purple | 2010/02/09

By the age of 4 most children will have noticed that everyone has slightly different skin colour. Most notice this from as soon as they start interacting with other children.

However, children don' t attach any significance to the differences in skin colour. They might get frustrated with a child who can' t speak the same language as them as they only learnt it on starting at the creche. They will remark that so and so has brown skin and mine is (and then struggle for the word - I just told my son it was peach, as his is fairly peachy).

Any racism (I don' t want to play with you because you are xxx) or where they describe someone as black or white or asian is definitely taught by adults though, as children describe what they see and those colours are not that descriptive of the colours we really are.
This is worrying.

If this is the way the creche your child is at do things, then you should speak to them about your concerns. If they are unwilling to change or the fault does lie with them (sometimes a child has learnt something from a parent and comes to school with it and the school is as upset as the other parents and because of the child' s young age, they ignore the behaviour knowing it will pass in a few days if no fuss is made, and they then just have a quiet word with the parents).

If you are afraid that your child will learn prejudice in this environment, move them. If you are afraid your child will be on the receiving end - move them.

Personally, although I work, I didn' t make use of a creche, I put my child into a formal pre-primary school from the age of 2. Most have after care and holiday care - where the children generally just play inside and outside without structured activity, and then in term time they follow themes and do age appropriate organised activities. They generally run right up to grade R.
I just found that because the teachers are all qualified, the assistants are often studying, and class numbers are fairly low things work out well.
In addition, because the staff are mostly all educated, they have good knowledge on childhood behaviour, so don' t overreact to things, keep parents in check, and deal with discipline kindly and firmly, and can answer many questions parents have about behaviour, age appropriateness of what their children are doing, good primary schools etc.

If discussing this matter with the school will cause them to treat your child in a negative way, then it really isn' t a good place to have your child. You need to know that if you discuss genuine concerns that it will not be taken out on your child. Personally, I' d move my child if I were you.

Reply to Purple
Posted by: qwerty | 2010/02/09

That depends on how they are being taught they are different. Certainly, the first big, visible difference would be that their skins really are different colours. This could be the same as saying, " Sally is different to Jane, because she has blonde hair and Jane has brown hair." 

But beyond that, kids should be encouraged that they are the same INSIDE, even though they might look different on the OUTSIDE.

What exactly are they teaching the children? If they are teaching and / or imparting anything negative based on race, (e.g. creating stereotypes) then this would really need to be addressed. Or you might possibly want to move your child to a different school if you are scared that taking this up with the teachers will draw negative attention to your own child.

Reply to qwerty
Posted by: cybershrink | 2010/02/09

Kids will notice such differences between them, just as they notice differences of many sorts between girls and boys, and notice some are tall or short, long-haired or short, black-haired o blonde. good at games or maths or bad at them.
And I don't think it helps to ignore such differences or the likely awareness of them. What matters more is how the teachers and parents respond to differences, which is what makes a big difference between celebrating and enjoying diversity, or teaching kids to be suspicious of or prejudieced towards, others who are different from them in some way.
So I wonder what is reflected in your first sentence. Are kids, in the teaching they meet, learning that they are all special and unique, and differ in a number of interesting ways, but are essentially also the same inside, in their value and loveability. Yes skin colours differ, but the kids inside are not of different value because of that, any more than red-heads are better or worse than brown-haired kids.
If there is suspect teaching, and a gentle discussion with the teachers should clarify this, I think qwerty is right about how to deal with this.

Reply to cybershrink

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