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10 Ways to Increase Diversity in Your Classroom

Multicultural and diversity have been pretty big topics this week for me.  Between the paper that I had to write to training that centers have needed to ECERS-3 information that has been asked for, it has been the information that everyone has required.  SO what better topic to talk about than diversity and the importance that it plays in our centers.

Diversity has increased tremendously in the US and as diversity increases, the need for teachers to be able to empathize with children and families who are different from themselves also increases.  Research indicates that teachers are not prepared to do so and that they need training and experience in different cultures to understand the differences (Perk, Maude, and Botherson,2015).

I feel like it is important to explain the difference in diversity and culture as some see it as the same.  Diversity is the differences in characteristics, qualities, traits, values, beliefs, and mannerisms in self and others based on predetermined factors and changeable features.  Culture is learned and shared values a system of beliefs and attitudes or control mechanisms that shape our behavior.  Culture is like a way of life, our blueprint of living, perceiving, understanding, and learning one brings to the situation(Berger & Riojas-Cortez, 2012). It is essential for teachers to understand the concept of culture because we are not only helping children grow physically, socially, linguistically, and cognitively but culturally as well.

 

Educators should focus on three approaches that will help themselves become more culturally diverse:

  1. Focus on self

    1. It is helpful when teachers know their own culture, beliefs, and biases towards others.  Teachers must examine their own lifestyles and beliefs so that they can begin to reflect on the differences between them and the children and families that they teach.
  2. Focus on Culturally and Linguistically diverse children.

    1. Encourage children particularly those who are culturally and linguistically diverse and those who have special needs to know themselves through an environment of acceptance, encouragement, and inquiry. Interactions with children should be based on knowledge of child development as well as the child’s culture for the interactions among children and adults to be appropriate and enabling.
  3. Focus on collaborating with the parents and the community.

    1. Recognize the history and culture that influences the lives of the children and families. Find people that share this culture and utilize the community to help teach you more and the children more.

 

Somethings that you can do in the classroom and in the center to enhance diversity is:

  1. Have representation throughout the classroom of Race, Culture, Age, ability, and nonstereotypical Represent this area through pictures, toys, puzzles, curriculum, food that is prepared, and conversations with the children.
  2. Talk to children in their native language.
  3. Put words on everything in both English and their native language.
  4. Provide books for children of different races, abilities, and cultures. Read these stories and have conversations with the children about the story.
  5. Play games around the world
  6. Provide toys that can represent clothing, food, tools, instruments, or even animals from a different country.
  7. Have a pen pal from a different country for your classroom
  8. Have parents come in and talk about their country or culture
  9. Have people from the community come in and talk about the culture
  10. Play music from around the world. Don’t just focus on that one other culture but all cultures to help the children become more diverse and understand all walks of life.

 

These are just 10 quick tips to help you out in the classroom to encourage your children to understand other cultures but also provide you with opportunities to communicate with the children the differences in people and the similarities and the importance of acceptance of all.


Resources

Berger, E.H., Riojas-Cortez, M.,(2012). Pearson. Parents as Partners in Education. Families and

schools working together.

 

Peck,N.F., Maunes,S.P., Botherson, M.J.(2015). Understanding preschool teachers perspectives

in empathy:  A qualitative Inquiry. Early Childhood Educational Journal. 43(3) 11p.