Question: Children in my room don’t want to play together because they are different genders. What can we do to encourage mixed-gender play?
Reflect on your own attitudes and thoughts around gender roles and inclusive play.
How do you program for children of different genders? How do you speak with them about their parents, friends, experiences and emotions?
Undertake an audit of your program including books, images and resources to ensure they are not reinforcing gender biases.
Provide plenty of open-ended play experiences both indoors and outdoors that allow children to use materials in ways that are not predetermined by manufacturers and adults.
Provide dramatic play spaces that encourage fewer gender roles. Rather than a home corner, for example, try a supermarket, office, post office, café or space station. These spaces might encourage children to think less about ideas of ‘mummies and daddies’ and more about diverse roles in our communities.
Challenge gender-biased play through gentle discussion. Ask the children what they think, explore some ideas together about ways to make play more inclusive of everybody. When given the time and safe space to discuss, children often come up with really great ideas.
Consultant, Community Child Care Association
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