As racial justice and racial equality issues take the forefront of our national dialogue, it should be no surprise when students begin asking questions about race.  

Whether they glimpsed something on the news or heard a friend or classmate discussing the topic, students are like sponges soaking up information.

It is never too early to begin talking to students about race. In fact, even toddlers can understand very complex subjects if explained in a way that caters to their developmental stage. 

Although it may feel awkward or uncomfortable, it is important to open these types of conversations with children and provide them with informed and helpful resources. 

Here are five tips for discussing race with children from the online resource EmbraceRace.org:

  1. Start when your children are young. By 6 months old, babies notice racial differences and may show signs of racial bias by age four. 
  2. Promote diversity. Choose books and toys for your children that include persons of different races. If your child doesn’t attend a diverse school, consider enrolling them in recreational programs that are diverse.
  3. Develop racial cultural literacy. Encourage your children to learn about the history and experiences of persons of different races and ethnicities. 
  4. Be honest and transparent. Children understand and observe more than we may realize. Give your children honest, age-appropriate answers about racism and oppression. Remember it is okay to say “I don’t know.”  
  5. Look at your own racial biases. You are a role model for your child. Be willing to examine your own biases and share with your children a bias you have held (or still hold) and how you overcame it. 

EmbraceRace is a multiracial community of parents, teachers, experts, and other caring adults who support each other to meet the challenges that race poses to our children, families, and communities.