Being Gender Friendly
It is vital for children to reach their full potential and that they are happy, healthy and safe. However, sometimes society limits what children can do, be and become. Some limits are obvious and for good reason. Others are subtle and unjust, and may even mean children growing up are less happy, confident and self-assured than they should be. Children learn from the world around them. Gender stereotypes perpetuate inequality and reinforce difference between men and women, rather than individuals being people first and equals.
At The Centre Playgroup ELC we are committed to promoting gender equality and tackling discrimination. In promoting equality in all areas, we hope to tackle stereotyping and discrimination and raise children who can participate fully in the world.
Being a Gender Friendly Nursery means that we take a ‘whole school approach’ to reducing gender inequalities, incorporating leadership and management, environment and resources, ethos, curriculum and partnership with mums, dads and carers.
In the early years, children begin to learn about gender roles and expectations, and will pick up messages from their surrounding environment about what is perceived as ‘normal’ for boys and girls. They are influenced by their environment and the adults around them. They learn from everything they see, hear and do. This shapes how they see themselves and others as they grow up and supports them to follow their own wishes and expressions of identity.
It is never too early to question what is seen as ‘normal’ or what is traditionally expected of boys and girls in our society. In fact, doing so from a very young age helps to protect children from the negative consequences of inequality and discrimination as they grow into adults.
Gender stereotyping is a deep-rooted and common issue. Stereotypes perpetuate inequality and reinforce preconceptions about what a person will like or how they will behave, simply because they belong to a particular group. When it comes to gender, stereotypes are based on an assumption that all boys will be the same and like the same things, and all girls will be the same and like the same things. This puts pressure on boys and girls to conform to certain notions of ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’ which can really limit and restrict young children. Stereotypes influence the activities children engage in, their interests and skills – and, ultimately, the roles they take in society as adults.
A gender equality approach means helping children to achieve and aspire. We want children to be whoever they want to be and make them feel equally comfortable playing football or taking dance classes and aspiring to a wide variety of careers and pathways. Breaking down gender stereotypes from a young age helps to stop the negative consequences of inequality and discrimination as it can support children grow into adults who aren’t limited by expectations based on their sex.
By providing children with environments that encourage non gendered norms and expectations, children can feel more accepted and celebrated for their individuality. They can broaden their aspirations and be more open to a wide range of opportunities.
Key establishment procedure
• Gender equality is reflected in the centre’s Visions Values and Aims.
• In line with the centre’s equal opportunities policy, all children, parents, carers, staff and service users are treated equally irrespective of their gender.
• Management understand and encourage a Gender Friendly environment.
• All staff have read the Gender equal play (Care Inspectorate, 2018).
• Staff use gender-neutral language and do not use gender stereotypical language.
• Planning is non-stereotypical in that the experiences are planned for all children, and are not gender specific.
• All children have equal opportunities to take part in all experiences and are encouraged to access all areas of the curriculum.
• The staff offer extra encouragement for the children to take part in non-stereotypical roles, for example girls taking part in football and boys dancing.
• In the role play area there are a wide variety of costumes and the children can wear what they want irrespective of gender.
• Children have opportunities, and are encouraged, to talk about different roles and experience them during role play.
• The children are encouraged to talk about their emotions and know that it is ok for girls and boys to cry when upset.
• All resources reflect a gender balance and are gender neutral.
• We have purchased a variety of gender friendly books, some of which show people in non-traditional roles.
• We have also purchased books to read to the children to introduce them to and to discuss different types of families such as; nuclear families, same sex families, lone parents, generational families, foster families etc.
• We invite non-stereotypical visitors to the centre, for example, female firefighters and male nurses.
• Staff use non-stereotypical language, for example do not call girls princesses and boys soldiers.
• Staff do not group boys together and girls together, rather they encourage a mixture of children.
• We take care to ensure that our displays include boys, girls, women and men.
• All children’s toilets are unisex.