June is Pride month, a time to celebrate LGBTQIA2S+ communities and reflect. Pride month exists to foster a sense of community, appreciate differences, and cultivate diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility, and belonging for queer folx around the world.

Pride month is so important to us here at Start Early. We are committed to cultivating an environment built on the values of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. Participating in Pride month is one way Start Early demonstrates a commitment to co-creating an organizational culture of inclusion where the presence, voices and ideas of staff and the communities we serve are represented, heard, valued, and acted upon.

Our work, focused on providing a bright and equitable future for all children, would not be possible without recognizing that LGBTQIA2S+ children, families and communities have been uniquely impacted and traumatized by hate and long-tolerated inequities.

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Caring parents want to protect their children from harm, which can make it difficult to know how to teach children about the history and create awareness about events like Pride. With many neighborhoods and communities showing their support for Pride in June, it’s only natural for children to get curious and start asking questions.

Child development experts agree parents should keep explanations simple and honest. It is also important to be positive and affirming. When adults listen to children without judgment, and meet children where they are at, it creates a foundation for open communication. When parents promote values of acceptance, children will grow proud of their identity and appreciate diversity.

Resources to Help Celebrate Pride Month with Your Children

Pride month is an important opportunity to teach children about what it means to be a member of LGBTQIA2S+ communities, share the history behind the month-long celebration, and to have some fun together as a family. Here are activities and resources that can be helpful when teaching your little one about Pride:

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Below are summaries of blogs that we issued in 2023 that highlight some of the things that we’re focusing on.

Unconscious Bias & Colorism

This blog shares insights on how unconscious bias influences policy, programs, and overall decision-making processes.

ParentChild+ Washington State Program Director, Pamela Williams, reflects on her experience at the 18th World Congress for the World Association for Infant Mental Health in Dublin, Ireland. Focused on Equity and Social Justice in Infant Mental Health, Pamela led a session exploring the Residual Effects of Colorism and the Impacts of Implicit Bias in Decision Making.

Nurturing Cultural Identity

Alex’s story echoes through the broader mission of home visitors, who actively support families in embracing and preserving their unique cultural identities.

In honor of Indigenous Peoples Day, Alex Patricelli, Start Early Washington’s Training and Technical Assistance Specialist, reflects on the cultural journey she shared with her sons during the 2023 Paddle to Muckleshoot. 

Strengthening Family Engagement

Camille’s blog emphasizes the significance of taking small, intentional steps to achieve large goals.

Camille Carlson, Start Early Washington’s Quality Improvement and Innovation Manager is at the forefront of fostering Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) in home visiting services statewide. Guiding professionals through individual and group coaching, she draws on her personal experience as a parent supported by home visitors, and views family as central to her work. 

Successes & Lessons Learned

Explore our transformative work in Washington state.

In our ongoing efforts to strengthen family engagement and retention in home visiting programs, this blog uncovers valuable insights from our work with home visiting professionals. Such as prioritizing the quality of relationships and tailoring strategies to families’ preferences, home visiting programs can effectively nurture engagement and retention, ultimately contributing to positive lifelong outcomes for children and families.

Reaching Beyond Numbers

Anna’s blog shares how she navigates data to highlight subtle differences in home visiting experiences, ultimately strengthening programs and fostering inclusive co-creative learning opportunities.

Anna Contreras, Program Analyst for Start Early Washington, leverages her Latinx background and personal experiences as a second-generation immigrant to enhance home visiting programs. Her commitment to inclusivity is rooted in her mother’s positive experience with home visiting during Anna’s childhood. 

At Start Early, we are committed to cultivating an environment built on the values of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. The opening remarks were provided by Chandra Ewell, DEIB team lead.

February is Black History Month, a time to celebrate the achievements, culture and legacy of Black Americans who have made contributions and played a critical role in shaping our country. We take the month of February to center Black voices and honor Black stories as we lift up the past, recognize the present and share hopes for the future.

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It’s never too early to start sharing positive reflections by sharing diverse stories with your children. It is important for children not only to see themselves, but others represented in the books we read to them. Reading books with your little one is a fun and easy way to help introduce them to new cultures, experiences and events in history.

Literature transforms the human experience and reflects it back to us, and in that reflection, we can see our own lives and experiences as part of the larger human experience. Reading, then, becomes a means of self-affirmation.

"Mirrors, Windows and Sliding Glass Doors" by Rudine Sims Bishop
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Children's Books To Read During Black History Month

Whether your child is a toddler, in pre-K or on their way to kindergarten, here are some great book recommendations from Anne-Marie Akin, our Educare Chicago librarian to read during this month and beyond:

Books recommended for infants:

Books recommended for toddlers:

Books recommended for children in pre-K or kindergarten:

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As we reflect on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the National Day of Racial Healing, we asked our early learning experts for advice on how talk to your little ones about racial healing, equity and justice.

As a parent, it can sometimes be difficult to talk to your children about serious issues like racism, but it is so very important. Sparking conversation with your little ones on this topic can help them to address bias and to be mindful as they navigate this big and sometimes scary world we live in.

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Children's Books on Racial Healing

One of the best ways to help your child learn is through reading. By choosing books that affirm the identities and backgrounds of all children you and your child can have an open dialogue about recognizing and celebrating differences. Here are book recommendations from our early learning experts to read aloud with your little one to learn about racial healing:

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Occasionally, Start Early Washington team members are honored with opportunities for thought leadership on a global scale. In this blog, ParentChild+ Washington State Program Director, Pamela Williams shares a few thought-provoking insights from her recent presentation at the 18th World Congress for the World Association for Infant Mental Health in Dublin, Ireland.

A Global Stage for Equity & Social Justice

In July 2023, Pamela Williams joined a global panel discussion at the 18th World Congress for the World Association for Infant Mental Health in Dublin, Ireland, focused on Equity and Social Justice in Infant Mental Health. Joining co-presenters from Canada, Australia and the U.S., Pamela led a session exploring the Residual Effects of Colorism and the Impacts of Implicit Bias in Our Decision Making. This presentation provided a unique opportunity for practitioners to reflect on how unconscious bias affects decision making in their field.

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Unpacking the Impact of Colorism

Colorism is favoring individuals with lighter skin over those with darker skin. It has deep-rooted consequences, resulting in disproportionate access to resources and preferential treatment, perpetuating societal ideals of beauty, success and alignment with a specific image.

Challenging Unconscious Bias

Pamela emphasized, “While we know that racism is systemic, it is important to understand how colorism shows up without us knowing.” She highlighted how colorism reinforces white supremacy and operates as an unconscious bias that influences decisions related to policy, programs, curriculum, resources, materials we select, who we hire and overall decision making.

Colorism sits right there – and while you may not see the varied hues of who represents a community, the decisions we make do.

Pamela Williams, ParentChild+ Washington State Program Director
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Exploring Colorism in Media & Society

Pamela led her audience through a series of thought-provoking questions and exercises, shedding light on the presence of colorism in communities, society and media. She showcased compelling historical and contemporary print ads, billboards and advertisements from the U.S., France and Asia, demonstrating how media supports a harmful, racist narrative that white is best, “the lighter your skin, the better you are.” She encouraged her audience to reflect on the messages the media portrays to Black, Indigenous and other people of color (BIPOC), and the messages it portrays to white people.

Broadening the Scope of Race Equity Work

Pamela stressed the importance of broadening the scope of race equity work beyond an American-centric perspective to better serve diverse staff with varying life experiences. Recognizing the disparities in the representation experienced by BIPOC American-born staff and those born outside the U.S., she pointed out that discussions about race need to adapt to the backgrounds of the communities we partner with. “Many of our BIPOC American-born staff struggle to remember the age when they saw people like themselves on TV, and many of my team members born outside of the U.S. said they saw representation all their lives.”

The result is that the conversations around race we may have in the U.S. do not mean the same thing to individuals raised in other countries. However, when we ask what it means to have dark skin, many individuals around the globe can relate to biases around skin tone. –Where the U.S. may embrace terms such as “Black” and “Brown,” individuals born outside the U.S. may cringe at the thought of their child or themselves being labeled with terms such as brown or black because they are viewed negatively in their home country.

Embracing Uncomfortable Conversations for Positive Change

Delving into these deeply ingrained biases, Pamela acknowledged the weight of these discussions. She was particularly mindful of encouraging her audience to stay present and engaged, as addressing these “sneaky little buggers that sit with us” is crucial for positive change and needs to be talked about. As a result, there can be powerful outcomes from doing this hard work; by challenging ourselves to uncover deeply held biases, we can improve our decision making, allowing us to do better in the communities we serve.

Resources For Deeper Understanding

To gain a deeper understanding of colorism, Pamela referenced the book Colorism: Investigating a Global Phenomenon by Dr. Kamilah Woodson. She also shared movie suggestions that explore this subject, including Imitation of Life and Passing. These resources provide valuable insights into the complex worldwide issue of colorism and its societal impacts.

Advancing Racial Equity

For over 40 years, Start Early has been singularly focused on the healthy development of young children, from before birth until kindergarten, helping close the opportunity gap and ensure children are ready to learn.

We are uncompromising in our pursuit of excellence and remain steadfast in our commitment to dismantling the unjust practices and policies that are harmful to children and families of color. Our work would not be possible without recognizing that each child and family has been uniquely impacted and traumatized by racism and generations of long-tolerated inequities.

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As we celebrate Native American Heritage Month, we not only honor the contributions of Indigenous communities but also pave the way for a more inclusive and compassionate society.

By exploring the arts, stories and traditions that define Native American cultures, we encourage our children to see the world through a diverse and respectful lens. We commemorate Native American Heritage Month to remember and learn from history and hope to use this month to continue growing as individuals and families.

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American Indians have been using legends (stories) as a way of teaching ever since time began. There are many lessons in storytelling. Most legends stress that one should not be greedy, boastful, or make fun of others. The legends also encourage older children to watch out for and help younger children. In this way legends taught the right way to do things. The tradition of storytelling tells us that we have a strong heritage for being good listeners and for talking to our children. Positive parenting is based on this concept. To have strong children we need to have good relationships. Good relationships depend on being able to talk AND listen.

Positive Indian Parenting Curriculum, Lesson II: Lessons of the Storyteller
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Children’s Books to Celebrate & Honor Native American Heritage Month

Storytelling is integral in Indigenous cultures—they can be told from books or through utilizing oral storytelling as a way for entertainment, education/teaching, and the sharing of culture and traditions.

As parents, we know that learning is most impactful when it’s shared with our children. Native American Heritage Month encourages us to engage in activities that promote understanding, respect and appreciation for Indigenous cultures. Here are a few age-appropriate books and resource recommendations you can share with your little one to celebrate this special month:

Books recommended for infants and toddlers:

Books recommended for children in pre-K or kindergarten:

Additional resources:

Advancing Racial Equity

For over 40 years, Start Early has been singularly focused on the healthy development of young children, from before birth until kindergarten, helping close the opportunity gap and ensure children are ready to learn.

We are uncompromising in our pursuit of excellence and remain steadfast in our commitment to dismantling the unjust practices and policies that are harmful to children and families of color. Our work would not be possible without recognizing that each child and family has been uniquely impacted and traumatized by racism and generations of long-tolerated inequities.

learn more

Group of children outside

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To understand the Latino community is to understand that it is vastly diverse within itself. Each individual Latino culture is established within the country people are from, and cultures are kept and celebrated within each respective community while residing in the U.S.

Although many members of the Latino community speak Spanish, words mean different things based on their cultural origin and the individual education of each person. Acknowledging this diversity within the Latino community helps families feel welcomed and demonstrates inclusivity of all Latino cultures.

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Little girl playing with toyFor young children, it’s important to show and appreciate the differences within each Latino community. Highlighting cultures by showcasing native attire, delicacies, country flags, differences in written language and general images of each culture help to create a shared understanding of what being a Latino means. This also helps Latino children create an identity and a sense of pride to be a Latino.

Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity for Latino children to understand the history of their family and their community. When speaking with a family in the native tongue, it creates a bond within the family unit that will help the child as they get older and learn to speak additional languages.

“Attire From Around the World” is an activity we like to do with the children and families we work with. Each child dresses up in an outfit that represents their nationality. Some students have worn Charo attire and folkloric dresses. Others braid their hair in a distinctive style or bring flags from their country to proudly display. We all love it when parents bring in food unique to their home country because it is a chance for all of us to sample special dishes and celebrate that culture! Children also love to take part in making pinatas – which are all created differently depending on what country they’re from.

Children's Books to Read During Hispanic Heritage Month

Whether your child is a toddler, in pre-K or headed to kindergarten, here are books to read aloud with your little one to celebrate and learn about the Latino culture.

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In these tumultuous times, the need for greater diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is in the news almost every day. One of the best ways to raise tolerant, accepting and empathetic children ready to thrive in life is to start early, incorporating inclusion and anti-bias into early childhood education curriculum for infants, toddlers and their families.

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Danielle Jordan, a school director of Educare Chicago, recently shared the early childhood school’s DEI best practices, starting with the fundamentals.

Teachers at Educare Chicago incorporate songs, storytelling and books into the curriculum. Some of her favorites include:

DEI books for children

This approach to developing a child’s sense of confidence in their personal and social identities (e.g., gender, ethnic and religious) aligns with the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s (NAEYC) anti-bias education. As a result, children feel grounded in who they are without a need to be superior to anyone else. The approach also emphasizes a teacher’s capacity to help a child recognize how they are simultaneously different and similar to others, which helps children foster an ability to comfortably and empathetically engage with people from all backgrounds.

We encourage students to share what is distinct about their families, how they celebrate special occasions and what is important to them.

Danielle Jordan, School Director, Educare Chicago
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Educare Chicago student holding diversity collage In a recent activity, children recently made posters showcasing their cultural heritage, as well as their similarities and differences. “The students were able to share and be proud of what makes them unique… your hair may be in ponytails, while my hair is in locks. The simple rule is we would like to treat people fairly and acknowledge that we are different but we’re also the same and need to show each other respect,” Jordan continues.

This focus on respect and appreciation for inclusion is particularly important during this time of racial unrest. “The way that we address the societal environment is by talking about community, family, culture and heritage,” says Jordan.

To help talk about these topics, staff at Educare Chicago have incorporated Sesame Street’s “We’re Different, We’re the Same” segment into their curriculum, as well as the book “Sometimes People March” by Tessa Allen.

We are doing exactly what our name says… We are starting early and building foundations that I hope will give the students what they need to go on.

Danielle Jordan, School Director, Educare Chicago
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Educare Chicago teachers also help students learn how to process big emotions such as sadness and anger, while emphasizing that people express feelings in a variety of ways to encourage an appreciation for personality differences. The school’s Wellness Specialists also connect with parents to let them know where their children are from a socioemotional perspective and offer guidance for development.

Intensive family engagement is a core tenet of the school’s approach, meaning the school’s inclusive curriculum also extends to children’s first teachers: their parents and caregivers. Staff provide parents with book recommendations, including those outlined above to help encourage at-home discussions about DEI. There are also parent support groups and a Parent Committee to help parents to build strong relationships with staff and one another.

Jordan has already seen the impact of their work. Recently, students celebrated a very shy classmate for stepping outside his comfort zone to give a presentation to the entire school about his pet snake.

Learn more about how to address race and identity with children by reading our National Racial Day of Healing blog post.

Juneteenth is recognized as a day to honor African American history, culture, and achievements, and it serves as a reminder of the ongoing struggle for equality and justice.

Celebrating Juneteenth is one way Start Early demonstrates our commitment to co-creating an organizational culture of inclusion where the presence, voices and ideas of staff and the communities we serve are represented, heard, valued, and acted upon.

For over 40 years, Start Early has been singularly focused on the healthy development of young children, from before birth until kindergarten, helping close the opportunity gap and ensure children are ready to learn.

We are uncompromising in our pursuit of excellence and remain steadfast in our commitment to dismantling the unjust practices and policies that are harmful to children and families of color. Our work would not be possible without recognizing that each child and family has been uniquely impacted and traumatized by racism and generations of long-tolerated inequities.

Stay Connected

Sign up to receive news, helpful tools and learn about how you can help our youngest learners.

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Reading books and watching videos are a couple of fun and easy ways to help introduce children to new cultures, experiences and events in history. It is important for children not only to see themselves, but others represented in the stories we read to them. When parents promote values of acceptance, children will take pride in their identity and love the unique parts of themselves that they contribute to the world.

Resources to Help Celebrate and Honor Juneteenth

Here are age-appropriate book recommendations and a celebratory Juneteenth song to share with your little one:

Read:

Listen:

  • Fyütch and the Alphabet Rockers created Juneteenth Song for Kids, a song about what Juneteenth is and why we celebrate Black freedom and liberation.

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Last month I had the pleasure of co-leading a session at the BUILD 2022 Virtual Conference: Building Systems, Improving Quality, Advancing Equity.

It was a joy to participate en una charla informal, a coffee talk, with my good friend, and colleague Miriam Calderon. We discussed and unpacked the strength and determination required to lift ourselves, our families, and our communities up in the unforgiving world of policy and politics.

BUILD has been a leader in providing spaces and opportunities for Latine professionals and leaders in the early childhood space to come together both informally and formally to talk and hear about what the Latine community wants and needs.

The Latine community is strong. We know that across this country it is Latinos and Latinas who pick, cook and serve our food, clean our houses and hotel rooms, care for our children, elderly and sick and are part of the backbone of the economy in countless ways.

As I joined with other Latine leaders throughout the week at BUILD and listened to their stories, I was stuck that today in 2022, many still talked about “imposter syndrome”, including me. I have had the privilege and opportunity to sit at many tables at the local, state, and national level but I am sure when I opened my mouth to share a recommendation or idea, there was some eye rolling in the room.

At Start Early, we share a commitment to racial equity and have been working diligently to provide individual staff with the support they need and want to grow and contribute to the early childhood field. For my part, I will be leading and providing a space for Latine individuals to participate in a mentoring circle where we will take time to understand our history as a community in the United States, our personal journeys and culture and how systems impact our progress as individuals and a community.

A common theme we explored was that we need mentorship – ongoing mentorship from people that look like us and understand our culture and values. As I have been reflecting on my own journey, it’s clear that each of has a responsibility to support and mentor the next generation of Latine leaders.

My hope is that through mentorship and in our daily work to change systems, Latine professionals and leaders will sit at any table and confidently speak their truth, represent the needs of their children and communities, despite the eye rolls.

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