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“Boys Can’t Do That!”: 3 Activities for Exploring Gender Roles with Young Children

Written by Marsha Rakestraw | Published on September 2, 2013 | Filed under Humane Connection
The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Humane Education website at http://humaneeducation.org/blog/2013/09/02/boys-that-3-activities-exploring-gender-roles-young-children/

Girl playing in a tree“He can’t have a doll, he’s a boy!” “Girls can’t be firemen!” “You’re not a boy. You have long hair!”

Our attitudes about gender develop very early. Studies show that by age two children begin to notice physical differences and by age three they have developed ideas about behaviors, activities, etc., that go with a particular gender.

As the authors of the book “Anti-Bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves” note, “…When children absorb messages that limit their exploration and play, neither boys nor girls are able to prepare fully for the intellectual and emotional realities and demands of life.”

Exploring gender identity, gender roles, stereotypes, and healthy views of gender and self can begin early. Here are three activities for younger students, created by kindergarten teacher Ashley Miller, to help. Download: