Teaching Children to Value Difference
The Initiative works to prevent, before they have a chance to take hold, those actions and beliefs that foster hate in preschoolers. It works with educators and family members – along with Sesame Workshop – to encourage children to not only respect, but to embrace our differences and resist bigotry in all forms.
Who Defines "Difference"?
Look at the world through the eyes of very young children, a world where everyone is accepted. Accepted, that is, until the moment when someone in their lives sends them a message that "difference" is bad. Sadly, that someone is usually, an adult.
That is why, in 2000, ADL's A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute launched The Miller Early Childhood Initiative, thanks to a generous grant from the Harvey L. Miller Family Foundation. From its very inception, The Initiative, had one clear goal in mind: To prevent, before they had a chance to take hold, the actions and beliefs that foster hate.
The Initiative works with educators and family members - along with Sesame Workshop - to encourage children to not only respect, but to embrace our differences, and to resist bigotry in all its forms. With your help, we can nurture future generations and prepare America's 12 million preschoolers to live in a complicated world.
How Can We Stop Hate Before it Starts?
We know that about 85 percent of the brain develops between ages 3 and 5 and that impressions and ideas formed between ages 2 and 4 are lasting. How important is early intervention? One recent study found that almost 50 percent of children had racial biases by age 6.
Fortunately, research also proves that when young children have positive, interactive experiences as part of their regular environments, they not only develop an appreciation of themselves, but also an appreciation of people who are physically and culturally different from themselves.
The Initiative's anti-bias workshops instruct educators and families how to teach appreciation and understanding, and foster children's abilities to respect differences in themselves and others. Trained facilitators deliver workshops to early childhood caregivers, educators, and families. Facilitator techniques such as small and large group discussion, role plays, videos, case studies, and goal setting increase participants' understanding of bias and discrimination.
In addition, the workshop activities and resources assist educators and family members in developing awareness of their own biases and ways they transfer those biases to children. Tools to effectively interrupt acts of bigotry, as well as additional print resources, are also distributed for use in school and at home.
How Can We Plant Seeds For The Future?
The Initiative provides up to ten hours of training to Caregivers, Educators and Aides that can be done over two or three workshop sessions. The initial workshop(s) provides an understanding of the impact of prejudice in an early childhood setting and an introduction to the program resources. The three-hour follow-up educator workshop reunites the participants to reinforce and further develop anti-bias skills.
The Initiative provides a three-hour workshop for Adult Family Members that focuses on how family members/guardians are children's "first teachers" when it comes to developing a sense of identity and combating stereotypes and negative attitudes.
How Can We Teach The Value of Difference?
To achieve its mission of combating prejudice in all its forms, The Initiative has joined forces with Sesame Workshop, a global pioneer in educating and entertaining children through multiple media, to create "Bias-Free Foundations" guidebooks and materials for educators and family members. Featuring beloved Sesame Street characters including Elmo, Cookie Monster and Big Bird, these resources are as visually appealing as they are powerful. The following materials are provided to workshop participants:
Early Childhood Guidebook and Activities for Educators: A 64-page color booklet jam-packed with activities -- including circle time, music/movement and celebrations/traditions and guidance for educators on creating bias-free early childhood programs for children ages 3 to 5.
Early Childhood Poster: A two-sided 4-color poster that highlights and reinforces anti bias concepts introduced in Educator and Family Workshops.
Early Childhood Resources: A 26-page booklet that recommends early childhood books, music, Internet sites and anti-bias resources for educators and family members of children ages 3 to 5.
Early Childhood Activities for Families: A 24-page color booklet for families that provides anti-bias activities -- such as cooking and meal time, reading/telling stories and arts/crafts -- as well as guidance about talking to kids about bias, exposing them to diversity and buying them multicultural toys and books that reflect the world at large.
A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute
The A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute was originated in 1985 by the Anti-Defamation League and WCVB-TV in Boston. Its mission: To provide hands-on training that enables children and adults to challenge prejudice and discrimination, as well as the tools to live and work successfully and civilly in an increasingly diverse world.
Today, the A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute is a market leader in the development and delivery of anti-bias and diversity education programs used by schools, universities, corporations and community and law enforcement agencies throughout the United States and abroad. Its specialized training programs-including the award-winning A CLASSROOM OF DIFFERENCE™ -- operate in 29 U S cities and in 14 countries around the world.
The ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE (ADL) was founded in 1913 "to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all." Today, it is the nation's premier civil rights/human relations agency. ADL defends democratic ideals and protects civil rights for all. It is considered United States' prime resource for information on and responses to organized bigotry.
A leader in the development of materials, programs (such as The Miller Early Childhood Initiative) and services, ADL builds bridges of communication, understanding and respect among diverse groups in the United States and around the world through a network of Regional and Satellite Offices.