It’s February – which means it is Black History Month! So what does that mean for a preschool?
Black History Month is a necessary aspect of most educational institutions due to the whitewashing of history. Folks grow up being given a whitewashed version of history, learning about white heroes, and hearing very little about black ones. Black History Month works on putting a dent in this, introducing people to the realities of history, and learning about incredible black folks they might not have otherwise.
But in a preschool, children have very little background knowledge. In fact, in my toddler classroom, they are just starting to develop their background knowledge of various aspects of history. So why do we have a Black History Month at all?
Note, this is coming from someone who just sent out an email to my families titled, “Black History Month”. I find myself now re-thinking how to approach Black History month as an early childhood educator. The children I work with are all under the age of 3. If I already need to use Black History Month to correct an imbalanced underlying knowledge of history and race – I haven’t been doing my job correctly.
Our email on Black History Month was about things we have already been doing that introduce the children to various aspects of Black culture and Black historical figures. We talked about ways to meet our anti-bias goals from the viewpoint of race specifically. We used it to offer a chance to hear from our families on the importance of Black History Month for them and the values within anti-racism they hope to instill in their children.
Because these things should and can happen year round. Because our focus isn’t yet on correcting knowledge it is about creating knowledge.
Black history and Black culture should be present in the class from the beginning of the year and should always be present. The history of skyscrapers or the history of trains are present and Black history isn’t. We follow the interests of the children, yes, but why aren’t we talking about how there were Black people who were a part of the creation of skyscrapers or who built railways? Anything that is historic in any classroom is white washed and it needs to be counteracted year round – not just in February. – Davasha Cintron, my wonderful co-worker and friend.