Child caregivers should not answer children's questions in ways that enable children to create stereotypical categories. Because children are aware of differences among the peers and the adults they encounter, children's questions must be answered accurately and in a developmentally appropriate way. When questions about individual difference arise, caregivers should assign no value to any difference. Societal values that prefer one difference over another--for example, white over black, rich over poor, male over female--stand in opposition to each child's right to full self-concept development. Because teachers are the central value transmitters in the classroom, they must support the individual differences of each child by examining their own fears, uncertainties, prejudices, and limitations. They must then honestly confront themselves when they fail to support a child that is different. Four dimensions of individual difference are discussed: gender, biracial children, handicapped children, and minority children. For each difference, three issues are addressed: (1) what the teacher needs to know about the difference; (2) how the teacher should support the difference in the classroom and child care center; and (3) how the teacher should work with parents to support children with the difference. (RH)
Paper sponsored by the Black/White Task Force and Child Care Services, Inc. and presented in Shreveport, LA, October 8, 1988.