The understanding of gender differences and the development of one’s gender identity is an important theme for kindergarten-aged children. In fact, the first self-categorization process begins already around a child’s first birthday.
Many child care providers will say that they treat boys and girls in exactly the same manner. At MyDagis, we consciously do not treat them the same. Children are not the same and should not be treated as though they are. Equality is not necessarily fair. Gender competence is based on recognizing differences in individuals.
Fortunately, many children are inclined to reject predetermined gender constructions when they realize that they do not fit their interests. But children who do not behave in a typical manner for their gender are often insecure and sometimes bullied. The foundation of gender-sensitive education is to encourage each child’s individuality, regardless of gender stereotypes, and to uncover gender-typical social practices by the children that are unhealthy and/or limiting and guide these practices in a more critical manner.
The goal of gender-sensitive education is to encourage children to explore their individual interests and strengths, without constant consideration of gender clichés. Gender-sensitive education is based on an attitude that recognizes diverse lifestyles and emphasizes the importance of equal opportunities and inclusion. Through our pedagogical way of working, we practice gender equality at MyDagis and, in this regard, support a society free of gender heierarchies. Specifically, this means that all employees work in a self-reflective manner, pay attention to their own language choices, and use gender-appropriate language, so as not to restrict the children in their development. For example, “I need some children to help me carry this heavy table” instead of ” I need four strong boys to help me carry this table”. In this way, it’s not just the “strong kids”, the boys, or the girls who are being addressed, but rather any children who believe in their own strength. Gender-sensitive education begins with qualified personal. Thus, MyDagis deals with gender stereotypes and gender-specific expectations head- on through training workshops and team meetings focused on gender issues. With male staff members in the Under 3 and 3+ groups, we practice gender-sensitive education openly and actively, and we have a number of male and female role models. In addition, we take a close look at educational materials such as games, books, songs, etc., and try to ensure that they do not reinforce traditional gender clichés (e.g. books in which only men are depicted in cars and semi-trucks). But here, too, the participation of the children and their parents plays an important role. The topic often comes up in our newsletter, during parent talks, and on parents’ evenings, and it is important that we can reflect and continue to evolve our approach together. We have to take the children seriously and work with them in a reflection-oriented manner if we are to accept them as independent subjects of their actions.