We know that children are smart and observant. In the world of Disney princesses, Marvel superheroes, and ubiquitous advertising, how do we support children in exploring gender? In a world where we fear sexual violence, how do we build the foundation for consent and healthy relationships? How do we teach children the skills to stand up for themselves, to examine the world thoughtfully and critically, and to name and shape their own identities? To explore these questions and gain new resources, the New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute invites you to a series of workshops on “Gender, Sexuality, and the Family in Early Childhood Education.”
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We are happy to offer these workshops to the educators and families in your early childhood program! The Educator workshops are each three hours in length (a total of 9 hours of in-person training). The Family workshops are each two hours in length (a total of 4 hours of in-person training).
Although we offer these series separately, we highly recommend that a school or program run the entire five session series (a total of 13 hours of in-person training) and thereby include both families and educators in these important discussions.
It is important to us that all programs interested in these workshops are able to provide them. We therefore offer a sliding scale fee structure, based on a program’s annual operating budget and number of FTE staff. Please contact us for more information and a price quote for your program.
When and how do children develop an understanding of gender?
How can we encourage children's comfort and respect for their own body and other people's bodies?
How can we include and celebrate the diversity of families and family structures in our programs?
During the preschool years, children begin to develop a conception of gender, sexuality, and family. However, there is often little space to for teachers to talk about the questions and behaviors that come up in their classrooms, or how to explore these concepts with children in their curriculum and pedagogy. Parents and family members often feel in the dark as well, with little opportunity to discuss and collaboratively develop strategies for working with their children or young people.
To open up this conversation, the New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute is offering a series of workshops – one set for educators and one set for families – designed to spark discussion, facilitate the creation of shared language, and provide educators and families the resources they need to make their classrooms and homes safe spaces for the development and expansive exploration of identity. By running workshops both for families and educators we hope to engage all members of an early childhood community in supporting each other and the children they care for.
In this workshop, we will learn about and discuss gender development in young children. Through discussions of how rigid gender roles and stereotypes can limit children's growth and self-expression, we will collectively develop and role-play strategies to facilitate expansive gender performances and to create inclusive classrooms which support a variety of gender expressions. We will also discuss a variety of ways to limit the perpetuation of gender stereotypes – from how children are complimented to how the classroom is organized – and how to work with family members who are struggling with their children's gender non-conforming dress or behaviors.
What attendees are saying about session 1:
"Scenario 1 & 2 were particularly stimulating and engaging. You were very engaging and did maybe the best job I've ever seen making a safe and educational space for everyone."
"The strategies gave me insight into things I can do to promote children's thinking about gender."
"Amazing workshop! Truly a joy to attend."
In this workshop, participants will have the opportunity to reflect on and deconstruct their feelings about children's curiosity and sexual exploration. We will develop strategies for fostering children's feelings of comfort about sexuality and their bodies while setting limits to help children develop a sense of boundaries. We will discuss fears regarding child sexual abuse and learn to distinguish between signs of abuse and childhood exploration. Through readings and role-plays, participants will explore what it means to help children develop healthy relationships and will learn strategies for teaching consent, respect, and encouraging children's sense of ownership over their bodies.
What attendees are saying about session 2:
"The discussion about consent and empowering children in ways that I have never thought of before."
"Defining that children have rights to express who and when they can be touched."
"I wish we had even more time to talk about this."
"This workshop was excellent. Couldn't have been better."
In this workshop, we will discuss the importance of supporting children by representing and including all families in the social and cultural community of the program. Focusing specifically on LGBTQ families, this workshop will help educators consider both deliberate and inadvertent messages about belonging contained in their programs' written material, environment, teaching, and educational practices. To create a more inclusive environment in their classrooms and schools, we will introduce concepts and language to talk with families and our staffs about sexual and gender identities, the legal structures that are involved in defining families, and discrimination targeted at people who do not conform to gender or sexual norms. We will also identify curricular opportunities to teach about family diversity and develop strategies and activities to teach children a more expansive understanding of family.
What attendees are saying about session 3:
"I found it very helpful to work through scenarios together and to have the chance to discuss all together. It was so great to have space at the beginning for people to ask questions and get a sense of where people are coming from."
"The space and support for critical self-reflection"
In this workshop, parents and family members will learn about and discuss gender development in young children. Through discussions of how rigid gender roles and stereotypes can limit children's growth and self-expression, participants will collectively develop and role-play strategies to support their children or young family members in an expansive development of identity. We will also discuss a variety of ways to limit the perpetuation of gender stereotypes and how to engage with our children and families around both gender conforming and non-conforming expression. Parents and family members will have the opportunity to work on the specific challenges and questions they have with their young people as well as share strategies and develop a shared language for future discussions.
In this workshop, parents and family members will have the opportunity to reflect on and deconstruct their feelings about children's curiosity and sexual exploration. We will develop strategies for fostering children's feelings of comfort about sexuality and their bodies while setting limits to help children develop a sense of boundaries. We will discuss fears regarding child sexual abuse and learn to distinguish between signs of abuse and childhood exploration. Through readings and role-plays, participants will explore what it means to help children develop healthy relationships and will learn strategies for teaching consent, respect, and encouraging children's sense of ownership over their bodies.