how big a deal is race at age 3??? - Mothering Forums

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Old 02-04-2008, 12:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I've been looking at different M schools all week and it looks like there are some good ones near me. The only thing that has me worried is that they are 100% one race that we are not. We are minorities in our community and DS has never even noticed, so I wonder if I should even worry about this.

I'm all worked up and nervous over my baby starting school anyhow...is this something that will even matter to him? Or am I being rediculous? When do kids even start to pick up on this stuff?

Mom to Owen (03/05), Mary (07/07) and Joseph (06/10).
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Old 02-04-2008, 12:11 PM
 
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I wouldn't worry about it. Some 3yos don't even notice skin color differences, and when they first do, it's not a big deal. They see it in the same catagory as hair color differences, some people being bigger or smaller, etc.

Ruth, single mommy to Leah, 19, Hannah, 18 (commuting to college), and Jack, 13(homeschooled)
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Old 02-04-2008, 12:25 PM
 
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We sent DS to a preschool that was overwhelming White, kids and teachers. It was fine; he didn't notice and nobody pointed out any differences AFAIK. At the time, other things about preschool were more important to us. However, when it came time for kindergarten, I made it a point to get him in a school that had equal diversity WRT race.

My husband said kids started noticing his skin color in early elementary, but not in a negative way... just, oh, your skin is brown, hmm, let's play! And DS does not talk in terms of race, only sometimes in terms of "so-and-so's skin is darker than mine" or "these three kids have brown eyes jut like me." I think that is something they emphasize at school... descriptive rather than categorical.

Can you talk to the teachers and get a feel for how they talk about different races? I'm not sure what you would ask/say, but just get them talking about it and see if they say things that seem to separate races in any way...

mama to DS 9 and DD 5 and
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Old 02-04-2008, 12:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by supervee View Post
Can you talk to the teachers and get a feel for how they talk about different races?
Thanks, that's a good idea.
Like you all said above, I know that I am the one who is worried about it and that its not a big deal for Owen. I just don't want him to be "singled out" for any reason.

Mom to Owen (03/05), Mary (07/07) and Joseph (06/10).
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Old 02-04-2008, 02:21 PM
 
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I am not sure that 3 year olds understand race, they might "sort" race as innocently as they sort hair length or color, height, or gender....

At DD2's school, there is a little bit of diversity as far as kids who are of Asian, Indian, or Middle Eastern families of origin, but very little diversity regarding kids who are African American or Latino. There are about 150 preschoolers at the school, and only 2 kids who are AA; One thing that I think is cool is that the mom of the one kid decided to put him in the same classroom as the other kid so that he wouldn't feel like the "only" boy in the whole school with brown skin, and the school was completely understanding of mom #2's reasoning and made it happen (there are 5 preprimary classrooms).
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Old 02-05-2008, 01:12 PM
 
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Our school is pretty diverse, we have a very large Indian population, then a smaller mix of other races & cultures. DD's classroom this year is small, for some reason afternoons is not popular, so its only 10 kids and just happens to be 9 white kids and 1 who is Indian. She had more diversity last year when there was a larger class. Anyway, my point is this, DD has been exposed to this environment, she has never once come home and said 'F. has different color skin than me'. She knows some of her friends are from India, we talk alot about where India is, I'm not sure if she's put the connection together that all the people who look this way are Indian or not, she's never mentioned it in a group context, only that a particular person is from India, and that's because they talk about their origins, etc.

Our school does an excellent job of celebrating diversity. I really think children take their cues from their environment, so I'd look carefully at how the school handles things. If you celebrate different holidays, ask how they handle that, etc. I think I would be a little concerned if there was no curriculum around it and/or if my child was going to end up being made into a constant example. (Like 'There are many different colors of skin, see how Bs skin is different')

Mightymoo - Mom to DD (6) and DS (4)
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Old 02-07-2008, 02:15 AM
 
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I would have to disagree with pp, based on my first hand experiences. Maybe society is different than it was over 25 years ago, but I vividly remember being told by other children that I could not use a toy because I was brown. Until middle school I was always the only black child in the classroom. Even then I was one of 5 out of 30. My educational experience was first rate, but my social experience was at times cruel and insulting. However I survived it all and I am a stronger person now. I do not have fond memories of my early years in school. I knew that there was a distinct difference between myself and the other children and so did they. I was too ashamed to voice my true feelings about the matter so I am sure that my mother is unaware of the behavior of my classmates.

However, if my son is accepted at our school of choice he will be the only (maybe there will be others) black student in his class.

I do plan on discussing race issues with my son at an early age and, in fact, point out the not so subtle differences that are characteristic of individual races. I would rather teach my son the positive difference than have some child introduce him to the difference with negative ridicule.

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Old 02-07-2008, 04:00 AM
 
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Our family is mixed Mexican and white. Ds has been aware of different skin colors since before he could talk. He used to sign "brown grandpa" and "white grandma" as 24 month old. So, um, yeah, kids notice! Our school is pretty diverse ethnically, though not economically since it has no financial aid. I'm not sure how I'd feel about it if it wasn't diverse. Does the racial make up reflect your city?
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Old 02-07-2008, 11:56 AM - Thread Starter
 
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piad -

Flor - the old people in town are white (we're Lebanese - generic white) but all of the families are AA. So, yeah, the school reflects the community. My alternative is to drive DS accross town to a "rich" (and white) town. So basically my choice is
1. Do I make DS the only white kid in an otherwise AA-but-economically-similar school?
2. Or do I make DS the poor kid, but the same color?
I suppose there is always 3. Do I homeschool as plan and just hope and pray that he settles down a bit so we can avoid the whole issue???

Mom to Owen (03/05), Mary (07/07) and Joseph (06/10).
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Old 02-07-2008, 04:54 PM
 
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There are six students besides my daughter's Montessori in her class. She is the only one of her race (which happens to be caucasian), we have a lot of diversity here. It has never been a problem.
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Old 02-10-2008, 12:55 AM
 
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Of course kids notice race. It is only when we make a big deal about it that they learn prejudice. I grew up in a town in Alabama where the Klan was listed in the phonebook. I AM NOT KIDDING!!

I also attended parochial school where I was one of 2 or 3 black kids. Most of the kids were fine, some had issues. The teachers didn't let them get away with anything overt. I survived and I think it helped me as an adult in the workforce, in college, etc.

As far as the choice of schools, do you want to go to birthday parties in your own town, or drive across town every weekend? Are you teaching your child that the local kids aren't good enough because they are different? Think about it.
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