Teaching Tolerance to Young Children...

There are very few textbooks that we actually kept from college, but this book, "Starting Small: Teaching Tolerance in Preschool and the Early Grades" was one that we've hung onto tightly from our teaching credential class days.  It's stayed on our nightstands for bedtime reading. It's journeyed to soccer practices while we watch our kids and from home to school and back again. 

It moved us before we became teachers and has stuck with us over the years. It's not a program or a Teacher's Guide with dictated lessons. It's a philosophy, an approach to children if you will. 

With Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day coming up, this seemed the perfect time to share and raise some awareness on how we can help today's young learner develop a tolerance for others that will hopefully lead to a more peaceful and empathetic way of life...Yes, yes sort of like wishing for World Peace, but like the title of the book states...We're "Starting Small". One child at at time...One classroom at a time...One school at a time. We can keep going, but we're pretty sure you can infer where we're headed. 
It's food for thought...
And, guess what?
It's free food. 
Who doesn't love a free meal?
 You can visit teachingtolerance.org and explore the many resources they have to offer. Sponsored by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Teaching Tolerance has an entire website devoted to educators who care about diversity and respecting differences in our schools. These are lessons that most likely won't be found in the Common Core, but they are lessons that will last a lifetime and as teachers, we feel we are obligated to teach them.  

Educators can order free materials by clicking on the "Film Kits" page from the top, then following the link on the left sidebar.
We ordered ourselves and received a free DVD, which has much of the same information as the book. 
It's a great resource and one that may get you thinking about teaching tolerance in your own classroom.

Fluttering Through First Grade


  1. Thank you Christy and Tammy! I enjoyed reading your blog post about tolerance. We worked and talked about it all last week in my first grade classroom. I am so excited about having a new resource that is free and beneficial to our students. Thanks so much for the blog post today!
    Deb at Fabulously First

  2. Thank you for the book suggestion! I love this topic and think it's so important for my students and my little guy at home!
    Thanks again!!
    Proud to be Primary

  3. I don't teach "tolerance." Now, that statement alone, I am sure, could bring on a whole boatload of intolerance from other people who disagree with me. Which is my point exactly. Tolerance has become a blanket word to mean we accept everything socially acceptable and right now it is socially acceptable to be "tolerant" of many issues including those which go directly against the laws of God. So, if you remove God from the equation then who is to say which views we should be tolerant of? Yours? Mine? Everybody's? At what point do we draw the line? Is it okay to be tolerant of cultural differences? Sure. Is it okay to be tolerant of murder? No. In my grandparents' generation people were tolerant of slavery. Now, we've been enlightened. Nothing is wrong with tolerance if by tolerance you mean loving people and respecting their opinion. But oddly, in our current popular culture, tolerance has taken on a new shade of meaning. It now seems to mean everyone's beliefs are equally valid, which then means there is no moral truth. Therefore, because I believe there are moral absolutes, many, many will be intolerant of my views. Which is hypocritical. Which is why I don't teach tolerance. I think I'll stick with teaching kindness and care for one another. Treating others with respect and dignity. Following the Golden Rule.

    1. You make some very valid points Mrs. Yazzie, and we don't find your comments intolerant at all. Thought provoking, actually. :) Thank you! We agree with you to a certain extent that tolerance has been used as a "blanket" statement to cover acceptance of everything, and really over time means "nothing" when watered down. In our own teaching experience, often times, our students' words speak louder than their actions...They can tell you what they should do to be kind, accept others, etc...But, do they practice it when they are away from our classrooms? Out at recess? With their peers? We are finding the answer to be no, many do not. This is where our teaching differs when it comes to teaching "tolerance" "kindness" and the "golden rule". It is not enough anymore to simply request that our students "Treat others the way you want to be treated." or remind them to be kind because it's "The Golden Rule". Yet, in our opinion, it is unreasonable (and quite frankly impossible) to teach the idea that all people should and will accept everyone and their differences all the time. That is not reality, and that certainly is not the world we live in. As far as morals, ethics, laws, religious beliefs, etc. we firmly believe those lessons should be left to families to teach at home. In no way do we ever touch upon specific beliefs or issues that are "laws of God" as you say or matters of personal belief. It is not our place as teachers, but it is in our own homes as Moms. :) So, we draw the line there. Simply put...For us, teaching tolerance in our classroom means raising awareness through natural experiences and "teachable moments" that arise in our everyday, which will most likely arise in their own lives as they grow as well. It is a young life lesson on how there are others in the world that may have different views outside of their own family and home and how to navigate those differences in a respectful and kind manner. For many young children, our classroom is their first experience with the "outside world". It is not a direct lesson or time of day in our plan book...It is an underlying tone that is set in our classroom to build a community of caring, empathetic learners who recognize that differences exist and that is OK. Kindness is a HUGE theme in our classroom, and quite frankly is one that is not deliberately taught or reminded...It is experienced. The title of the book and DVD, "Starting Small" sums it up beautifully for us...small steps towards building a more tolerant, accepting society. Nothing major, just age appropriate awareness for looking beyond one's self into the bigger world we live in...Bottom line, kindness. :)


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