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Challenging gender stereotypes at the Johnson House Preschool Hairdressers

- March 16, 2015

The educators in Johnson House preschool recently set up a dramatic play area with hairdresser props for the children. As well as creating some fabulous hair styles, the space also gave children and educators the opportunity to explore and challenge some common gender stereotypes.

              

                                  

Centre Director Mariam says that the experience was prompted by a comment that a child had made that only girls have long hair and only boys have short hair. She says “We wanted to give the children an opportunity to use play and familiar ‘real life’ play scripts to challenge some of the gender stereotypes that are out there, and going to the hairdresser is a common experience that most children can identify with”. 

The space was equally popular with boys and girls, and the children shared the space happily as they engaged in and developed various pretend play scenarios.

                                         

The educators used this experience, which evolved over a number of weeks, to challenge children’s thinking about gender stereotypes by posing questions in the context of the children’s play. For example, they encouraged the children to think and talk about when they had been to a hairdresser in real-life, and to consider questions such as what did their hairdresser do, and how did they do it? Was their hairdresser a boy or a girl? Did they think both girls and boys might enjoy being a hairdresser? Did they think that both boys and girls could be good at being hairdressers?


                               

                                            Educator Philomena gets the full beauty treatment

The Johnson House Preschool Hairdressers was also very popular with the adults at The Infants’ Home, with many educators and other staff members popping in to the salon for a little pampering with a quick trim, straighten or blow dry.

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