Five ways to analyze classrooms for an anti-bias approach


It is impossible for all anti-bias classrooms to look the same! Each classroom serves different children with different families and different staff in different communities. Programs and families should take time to make conscious decisions about how they look and act in these actual contexts.

If your classroom or community is not diverse, or if you don’t have personal experience with diversity, make sure any image of diversity you bring is accurate and non-stereotypical. Portraying Native Americans in traditional costumes tells children little about Native Americans today and can foster stereotypes. Providing accurate images may mean more work for you, but it is important because of the subtle messages that children will receive.

Be open to hearing other points of view. Reflecting on your own childhood, and on the lessons you learned, may help you imagine how a message is perceived by a child today. Families and staff must work together to sort through these issues.


Child care professionals cannot protect children from the realities of life. We can, however, build the child’s strengths. Children can develop skills to evaluate our world for respect and diversity. Talking about a book that is biased can help children think about why it is biased, and what they might do about it.

Caring for others and ourselves requires attention from all of us. Help the children and families in your program develop the skills needed to work toward anti-bias. Learning how to do this in the child care setting helps the future leaders and workers of our world know how to do it in their homes, work and communities.


Council on Interracial Books for Children. (1980). *Guidelines for selecting bias-free textbooks and storybooks*. New York: Author.

Derman-Sparks, L., & the A.B.C. Task Force (1989). *Anti-bias curriculum: Tools for empowering young children*. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.

The images of “mirrors and windows” is based on unpublished materials from Emily Style of the Wellesley College Center for Research on Women, Project S.E.E.D. (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity).

Reprinted with permission from the National Network for Child Care – NNCC. Riehl, P. (1993). Five ways to analyze classrooms for an anti-bias approach. In Todd, C.M. (Ed.), *School-age connections*, 2(6), pp.1-3. Urbana-Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Service.


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