Charlie's Child Care Blog

« Back to Home

Gender-Neutral Kindergarten Tips & Tricks

Posted on

The 21st century is hurtling toward the beginning of its third decade, and some pretty massive strides are being made in the arenas of equality and diversity. One of the things currently being pondered by many facilities involved in childcare is how to make education, especially in the early years, a little less gendered. It's remarkable how early the stereotyping sets in — and more and more educators and parents are beginning to understand the damage done when half the children are taught to prize 'pretty' while the other half are taught to embody 'brave'. Both active and passive traits are vital for the healthy growth and development of all children, after all! So what can be done in the average kindergarten to help foster this kind of balance and neutrality?

Avoid dividing games and activities by gender.

When you've got a whole bunch of kids and you need to split them up somehow, "boys against girls" is a quick and easy choice. Trouble is that it can be a bit counter-productive; it encourages a kind of tribal sense of difference between children that simply wouldn't be there otherwise, and it's likely to reinforce gendered messages they're picking up elsewhere. Try splitting up your kindergarteners randomly instead, or by some less loaded trait such as "favourite ice cream flavour".

Don't get too caught up in the pink/blue trap.

It seems like toys for children are gradually becoming ever more gendered, with the boys' and girls' aisles in department stores now almost completely colour-coded. If you're trying to avoid reinforcing the stereotypes that come along with that, in the current climate it's important to include in that a whole range of colours. Diversify your toys, your decorations and your craft materials, and steer clear of trying to influence which colours any individual child feels drawn to.

Be aware of the assumptions you make about children.

Even with the best of intentions, societal conditioning runs deep enough that everyone makes assumptions sometimes. When you're having a word with two girls about an incident of misbehaviour, stop and ask yourself: would you interpret this situation differently if the children involved were boys, perhaps as more mischievous than malicious? If a boy comes to you crying about something and your instinct is to downplay how he feels, are you sure you wouldn't pay it more heed it if was a girl with the same issue? Even if the answer to these questions is always 'no', thinking about it regularly will help you to foster an environment of equality.