Police Curriculum in Early Childhood Classrooms in the Era of Black Lives Matter

1/1/2022 – 12/31/2022


There is no issue more pressing in the contemporary US than the relationship of citizens to the police. As a society we are struggling to find solutions to the problems that rose to national attention in the wake of Black Lives Matter and “I can’t breathe.” Meanwhile, in Early Childhood Education (ECE) programs across the country, preschool teachers on a daily basis, with little preparation face the challenge of how to respond to children’s police play. How, in this era of a crisis in policing, should ECE programs approach teaching young children about the role of the police in their communities?

This study aims to (1) investigate how preschool teachers, administrators, ECE scholars, and police officers make sense of young children’s police play; (2) identify gaps in the ECE field regarding teachers’ understanding of how to engage with children’s police play and present police in curriculum; (3) identify strengths that experienced ECE practitioners bring to addressing this issue in their local settings; and (4) generate professional development resources to support ECE teachers’ approach to children’s police play. The PI is Dr. Allison Sterling Henward of the Pennsylvania State University and the co-PIs are Dr. Kyunghwa Lee of the University of Georgia and Dr. Fabienne Doucet of New York University.