Giving Compass' Take:

• Jackie Mader argues that too few parents and teachers are talking about race, gender and other identity traits with children. The article also outlines the findings from a Sesame Workshop survey. 

• How can funders help to support productive and educational conversations around race and identity? 

• Learn about how and the best ways to teach kids about race.

A new report by Sesame Workshop surveyed 6,070 parents of children ages 3 to 12 and 1,046 teachers from preschool to fifth grade. Experts say this trend can have serious implications, because when adults don’t talk to kids about these topics, kids learn that identity is a taboo topic. They may also start to believe the stereotypes and biases they’re presented with in everyday life.

“Young kids do notice skin tone, they do notice race groups,” said Christia Spears Brown, a professor and associate chair of development and social psychology at the University of Kentucky, who has researched and written about identity development. “We also live in a segregated society…We know kids notice that and if parents don’t help them have an explanation that navigates the bias, kids will just absorb it as its just real meaningful difference.”

The authors of the Sesame Workshop “Identity Matters” report surveyed 6,070 parents of children. Here are some of their main findings:

  • Only 10 percent of parents discuss race often with their children.
  • A parent’s race impacts how often these conversations are happening. Twenty-two percent of black parents discuss race often with their children, compared to 6 percent of white parents.
  • Nearly 35 percent of all parents surveyed said they never talk to their children about social class.
  • Fifty-seven percent of all parents said they rarely or never talk about gender with their kids. These conversations are less likely to happen with younger children. Less than a third of parents of 3- to 5-year-old kids discuss race and ethnicity sometimes or often.

Read the full article about talking to your children about race by Jackie Mader at The Hechinger Report.