Earlier this month, Program Director Patti Casey led all EC3 staff through a Cultural Competency and Inclusion Training. In three parts over the next week, we will share what we learned with you for your own family conversations and teaching moments.
Part 1: Cultural Diversity
A welcoming and respectful environment encourages diversity. In general, preschool or an early learning center is the first place kids encounter other children and adults who may look, speak, or act differently than themselves and their families. So, the lens of an early childhood classroom really affects the way kids view culture. It forms how they view equality, respect for others and cooperation. This means teachers can truly guide and affect how children view cultural diversity. Here’s how EC3 teachers and parents can help:
1. Treat all children with equal respect.
2. Plan activities to encourage positive self identity.
3. Teach the positive value of our differences.
Example Question: “Why does Jason talk differently?”
Example Answer: “We are lucky to live in a country were we get to meet people from all over the world. Some people even know more than one language and speak English as their second or third language.”
4. Intervene if kids tease or reject others.
5. Show positive visuals of different cultural backgrounds or from different parts of the world.
Example: Have toys and dolls representing different ethnicities, races, and backgrounds mixed in with all the toys and dolls.
6. Avoid stereotypes when speaking.
Example Question: “Why does Chloe wear a scarf on her head?”
Example Answer: “In some cultures and religions women cover their hair out of respect or for other reasons. You wear hats sometimes too, don’t you?”
These are just small steps that our teachers and staff practice so that from the start, children are immersed in the positivity cultural diversity brings to the table.
Tomorrow in Part 2 we will discuss how we can talk to young children about race.