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Early Childhood Stages of Racial Awareness. (CULTURAL AWARENESS).

Infants and toddlers

* The foundation of self-awareness is laid when children are infants and toddlers.

* By age two, children recognize and explore physical differences. They are also learning the names of colors, and they begin to apply this to skin color.

The preschool years (age three and four)

* Children (age three and four) are better at noticing differences among people.

* They have learned to classify, and they tend to sort based on color and size.

* At this age, children's thinking is limited, distorted, and inconsistent. For these reasons it is easy for them to believe stereotypes and form pre-prejudices.

Kindergarten (age five and six)

* Kindergartners continue to ask questions about physical differences, and they can begin to understand the explanations for these differences.

* They can now make distinctions between members of the same racial or cultural group.

* They enjoy exploring the culture of their friends,

* By age six, most children understand the concept of fair and unfair, and they often use these concepts as they try to deal with issues.

The early primary years (age 7 and 8)

* At this age, children acquire racial constancy.

* They now understand that a person's skin color will not wash off or change but will remain the same as she grows up.

* Children can also understand feelings of shame and pride at this age, and they are aware of racism against their own group.

A first step in helping children feel positive about racial and cultural identity is reflecting diversity in their surroundings. Here are some ideas you can try:

* Remove materials and visuals that promote stereotypes.

* Display images of all the children and families in your program.

* If your group is not diverse, display images of diversity in your community or in U.S. society.

* Add toys and materials that reflect the culture of the children and families in your group. Then expand to include materials that mirror the diversity in the world.

Access programming ideas to enhance cultural awareness at your camp by visiting the National Network for Child Care's Web site,
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Article Details
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Publication:Camping Magazine
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2001
Previous Article:Talking With Children About Disaster. (COMMUNICATION).
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