The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture has announced the expansion of its Early Childhood Education Initiative with a $1.5 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
Structured to be joyous and fun, the museum-based curriculum is designed to help young children of all backgrounds develop healthy racial identities and other social skills.
“Early childhood education has the power to change the future,” Spencer Crew, interim director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, said in a statement. “To begin the process of racial reconciliation and healing, we must have meaningful and intentional conversations with children about racial identity and promote anti-bias values from birth.
“With an appreciation for differences in early childhood, young children can develop into adults who actively challenge bias, stereotyping and various forms of discrimination,” Crew said.
The Kellogg Foundation’s “Thriving Children” initiative funds efforts like ECEI that support quality learning experiences for all children, including the promotion of racial equity in early childhood education.
“Children are remarkably good observers who pay close attention to human behavior,” said NMAAHC Director of Education Esther Washington. “There is a common misconception that young children are ‘color blind’ and untouched by prejudice. Research shows that from infancy, children are developing mental maps that lead to their baseline racialized identity and social status before the age of 6. Early childhood education has the power to guide racial and social identities to a healthy place.”