Brief description of the issue
Children’s understanding of gender is influenced and reinforced at a young age through interactions and experiences with family, culture, lifestyle, the media, education and childcare environments and the wider community. In the early years, the childcare environment is a primary source of information about gender roles and expectations, and what is valued in boys and girls (Women’s Health East, 2017).
Preschools, kindergartens and childcare centres are environments where children pick up cues and understanding of how they are supposed to behave and talk, what they should be interested in and are expected to enjoy. In other words, it is a place where children’s understanding of gender develops. Early years educators are in a unique and important position to influence children’s development (Women’s Health East, 2017).
They also have the capacity to create environments that encourage equal and respectful relationships, break down harmful gender stereotypes and promote gender equality to ensure that children are not limited by gendered expectations (Women’s Health East, 2017).
In this guide for early years educators, practical tips are available in an infographic that they can print and put in their office or workplace. There are also tips to assess books according to gender equality criteria and a selection of books that promote gender equality. Although this resource is primarily grounded in an Australian context, many tips can be transferred to the Canadian reality.
HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN FOUNDATION WELCOMING SCHOOLS, 2019. Be prepared for questions and put-downs about gender, accessible online at: http://assets2.hrc.org/welcoming-schools/documents/WS_Be_Prepared_for_Questions_and_Put-Downs_on_Gender.pdf
WOMEN’S HEALTH EAST, 2017. No limitations: Breaking down gender stereotypes in the early years, A guide for early years educators, accessible online at: http://whe.org.au/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2017/11/No-limitations-guide_FINAL.pdf