Culturally Diverse Teaching Strategies and Activities
Teachers should adopt teaching strategies geared toward the cultural backgrounds of students. These strategies should create an optimum learning environment.
Guidelines for teaching strategies include:
Recognizing personal biases
Reflecting the lives of children
Creating learning opportunities from social interactions
Developing relationships with parents/guardians
Helping children preserve their native language
It is impossible for educators to teach acceptance and diversity if they cannot recognize their own biases. Even the most subtle movements or facial expressions can be obvious to a child. Teachers can evaluate their personal actions against biased behavior by using a checklist designed to heighten awareness and sensitivity of personnel working in early childhood education.
Because teacher behaviors strongly influence children; it is imperative that unintentional biases not reach students or influence student behavior. Teachers are exposed to stereotypes like everyone else. It is normal for them to have preconceived ideas about certain cultures; however, teachers must be self-aware and self-reflective in order to identify biased behavior and reshape their view of others. Support groups within the school can be very helpful with these efforts.
Removing adult biases and preconceived ideas about race and culture opens teachers’ eyes to what children can accomplish.
By the time children enter preschool, they have developed some language skills, knowledge about their culture, and a natural curiosity about their surroundings. Recognizing what children already know, their interests, and the strengths they may possess can create a multitude of opportunities for teachers to guide students in the directions most likely to facilitate learning.
Ignoring children’s individual strengths creates an unnecessary obstacle for effective student/teacher communication.
One of the worst things a teacher can do is underestimate a child’s ability. The more focus that is put on a child’s strengths, the more his/her possibilities can be realized. Not recognizing and developing a child’s potential may cause the child to feel inferior and be treated as less intelligent by classmates. Since it easy for a teacher’s attention to be drawn to children who excel, a child who has been marginalized by inattention will become more withdrawn. He/she will not receive the feedback that encourages participation and facilitates social interaction and learning.
Every child learns differently. Learning styles vary based on individual preference and availability of toys and other teaching aids. It is important to employ a variety of teaching techniques to accommodate different learning styles.
Spatial learners are hands-on learners who learn best through coloring, painting, and using images
Linguistic learners like words and letters; toys for linguistic learners include alphabet games and word association songs
Musical learners like to dance and sing and can learn to spell and count through song
Logical or mathematical learners like numbers; a logical learner may learn the alphabet by associating a letter of the alphabet with its number in line
Physical learners develop skills through movement and touch and enjoy games that require construction and demolition
Interpersonal learners learn best from activities that include talking, interacting, and playing with other children
Intrapersonal learners are independent and analytical; accomplishing tasks without assistance builds their self-esteem
Naturalistic learners like to explore and interact with nature; the best way to teach a naturalistic learner may be through relating human experiences to those of animals
Ways to Involve Families
To ensure the best possible educational environment for a child, it is important to involve the parents/guardians. Educate them about the goals and multicultural curriculum planned for their children. Share books, articles, and ideas. Ask for parental input regarding activities that promote their culture.
Develop a class newsletter that includes the names of television shows and films that promote cultural diversity as well as those to avoid because of negative stereotypes. Often, parents/guardians are just as uncomfortable as the child in their new environment.
A teacher should help parents/guardians understand the culture of the new environment. A student’s family can be a valuable resource when planning multicultural curriculum.
Involve or Explore Many Cultures
Involve students in classroom activities that involve or explore many cultures at the same time. For example, passports can be made out of construction paper. Have the students decorate the front with items from their home culture. New pages can be added for each new country the class “visits.” On the new pages, color items that are indigenous, but do not represent stereotypes.
Bulletin boards can be made about Native American cultures and show different tribes and artifacts. This idea can also be used to illustrate subcultures within ethnic groups.
Picture books can be made using magazines that depict different cultures. Have each child write a sentence or make up a story about the picture and record it in the book. Realistic publications such as National Geographic are excellent resources for this activity.
Children can trace their hands on pieces of paper. Have the children then choose the crayon that is closest to the color of their skin and use it to color the hand. Cut out the hands and make a hand chain by stapling or taping them together, then hang the chain along the wall in the child care facility.
Each child can also draw and color a picture of his/her family. Tape the pictures together to make a quilt to hang in the classroom.
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