“Pink is a girl’s color!” “Only boys play with Legos!” “I only play with boys because I’m a boy!”
Statements like these can be heard in any preschool/kindergarten classroom as our youngest students become more aware of gender stereotypes in our culture. It is very natural for kids this age to see gender as black and white: Boys like blue, play with cars, and have short hair- Girls wear pink, like dolls, and have long hair. Our society reinforces this by creating toy aisles that are gender specific, or by only showing kids playing with certain toys in commercials. In order to combat such stereotypes, parents and teachers need to be prepared to refute these incorrect notions. Teachers and parents should provide books that show male and females in different roles: a stay at home dad, police woman, male teacher, etc. They should also refrain from dividing children up by gender, and encourage all children to work and play together. If a teacher or parent hears kids saying things that reinforce stereotypes, they can respond by replying “toys are toys, there are no girl toys or boy toys”, for example. Creating a gender neutral environment allows our littlest learners to explore and express who they really are without the pressure of gender stereotypes.
Here is a link to a short article about how Montessori education promotes gender neutrality: