20th July 2021 All Posts EYFS Series

Inclusion and equalities in early years

Inclusion and equalities in early years

EYFS Series Part 7:

Welcome to part 7 of the EYFS Series we are running to support you with the EYFS reforms which come into play in September. Today we chat to Tamsin Grimmer about inclusion and equalities in early years to open up necessary discussions around race, stereotypes, bias and cultural diversity.

Catch up on:

  • Part 1 – ‘Beatrice Merrick on using Birth to 5 Matters’
  • Part 2 – ‘A whistle-stop tour on Self-Regulation with Sue Asquith’
  • Part 3 – ‘Don’t worry about the reviewed EYFS: Make it Work For You’
  • Part 4 – ‘Feel prepared for the revised EYFS with Sue Asquith’
  • Part 5 – ‘Some thoughts on pedagogy and curriculum’
  • Part 6 – ‘Implementing the revised EYFS in your setting’

If we’re talking about reforms, one area that definitely needs attention is how we deal with racism, stereotyping and bias in early years.

Our brain is wired for bias and whether we intend to or not, we each carry with us our own prejudices based on our individual experiences, backgrounds and beliefs. 

One way to interrupt that bias is to pause and reflect on the evidence of our assumptions. We need to ask ourselves what assumptions do we carry into a setting? How do we make ourselves aware of our own unconscious bias?

We delve into some answers with Tamsin Grimmer who attended the Birth to 5 Matters Steering Group and was a member of the Inclusive Practice and Equalities Working Group.

The difference between equality and equity and how this might look in a setting

Equality is usually thought of as everyone being equal and although this is a good thing in itself, even with the best will in the world, everyone isn’t equal in one sense, because everyone has different strengths and needs and sometimes children have barriers to learning. So equity is about being truly inclusive and removing barriers to learning.

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Common language we use around children which could be reinforcing stereotypes

We need to consciously think about the language we use and the messages that this gives our children. Sometimes this is so ingrained in us that we need to really stop, notice and question our practices. 

Stereotypes become a problem when we make assumptions based on our thinking or act less favourably to a child or family because of the stereotype we have – at this point it becomes discrimination and this negative stereotype has become unhelpful and full of prejudice. 

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How to celebrate cultural diversity

Diversity recognises that differences are a natural part of society and these are viewed as a benefit not a threat.  Celebrating our differences with young children is a great way of showing that we are all unique individuals.

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Everyday activities to encourage inclusion and a sense of belonging

We can value and celebrate children for their uniqueness and individuality whilst also sharing similarities, so that children can see what is different about each other but also what is the same. For example, one thing they all have in common is they share the same nursery or setting! Creating an inclusive ethos and having a loving pedagogy in your setting can make every child feel welcome.

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Including families in discussions around race to build a more inclusive community

Talking about race is a first step in countering racism so the best thing that practitioners can do is begin that discussion. One great way to do this is to share and celebrate children’s lived experiences and be sensitive to the different circumstances that every family finds themselves in. 

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Challenging your own views and prejudices

Three things Tamsin finds helpful:

  • Educating yourself
  • Talking about it with others
  • Actively promoting diversity, equality and inclusion
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Tamsin's Top 20 Refreshing Reads

All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold

Susan Laughs by Jeanne Willis

The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad

This Is Our House by Michael Rosen

When the Dragons Came by Lynne Moore and Naomi Kefford

Giraffe’s Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae

Dogs Don’t Do Ballet by Anna Kemp

Mommy, Mama and Me and Daddy, Papa and Me by Lesléa Newman

And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson

Flying Free by Jennifer Gregg

I Am Whole by Shola Oz

Eyes That Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho

Sunflower Sisters by Monika Singh Gangotra

Hey You! by Dapo Adeola

M for Melanin by Tiffany Rose

The Tigon and the Lyger by Keilly Swift

My Skin, Your Skin by Laura Henry-Allain

The Mega Magic Hair Swap! by Rochelle Humes

Don’t Touch My Hair! by Sharee Miller

Cinderella – Jump at the Sun Fairy-Tale Classics (black Cinderella)

More from the EYFS Series

  • Part 5 – ‘Some thoughts on pedagogy and curriculum’
  • Part 6 – ‘Implementing the EYFS in your setting’

Next up… Jo Caswell tells us what we can expect from Ofsted – stay tuned!

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About the Author

Product Marketing Manager at Connect Childcare