The School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh has issued a new report detailing the importance of talking about race and racial issues with young children. The report urges parents and teachers, both separately and in tandem, to instill a sense of positive racial identity in African American children.
According to the authors of the report, “children become aware of racial differences at an early age. Infants, as young as 3 months old, are capable of categorizing people by race. Before a child’s third birthday, they are able to attribute positive and negative traits to racial groups. By age 5, children are able to express race-based biases and preferences.”
The report states that both parents and teachers believe that fostering a sense of racial identity is important to a child’s healthy identity. But they point out that teachers and parents are often unsure about how to proceed. As a result, many tend to avoid racial topics altogether.
The authors conclude the “proactively teaching young children to recognize and appreciate cultural differences promotes positive perceptions and empathy toward others.”
The full report, Understanding PRIDE in Pittsburgh: Positive Racial Identity Development in Early Education, may be downloaded by clicking here.