Children’s home cultures should be considered when selecting curriculum and resource materials. Learn the cultures of the students so that no one is excluded from discussions. All materials should reflect images of diverse races involved in cultural activities.
The following approach can be reflective of the “Tourist Approach” and should be considered cautiously: When discussing the winter holiday season, include Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa. Tell stories of the American Santa Claus, European Father Christmas, De Goede Sint of the Netherlands, and other cultural holiday figures. Music should include songs in different languages. Story time should include not only fairy tales familiar to the teacher’s childhood, but also fables and tales from other areas. Ask students to share stories that they learned from their families and to bring in their favorite toy or snack. Translate whenever possible during group discussions.
Children are very easily influenced.
Teachers’ attitudes and ideals are reflected in the children in their care. Even though teachers may not realize it, incidental actions and remarks may be more readily adopted by students than intentional conversation. Teachers must take great care to remove personal bias from the classroom.
Similarly, because some cultural practices may not meet the behavior expectations of the school, it is necessary to help the child understand that necessary adjustments are not in opposition to his/her family or beliefs. When testing and grading students, be sure that materials are not culturally biased.
Each child is an individual with unique qualities.
These qualities are a result of experiences, culture, and environment. Teachers can effectively nurture each child’s unique qualities by:
Displaying a sense of pride when discussing individuality
Providing an atmosphere of belonging and acceptance
Resolving conflicting ideas with acceptance and respect
Focusing activities on various cultural interests and experiences
Showing interest with parents/guardians about family customs
When hiring child care staff, consideration should be given to building a team of culturally diverse professionals. Teachers who enhance diversity will create an atmosphere of mutual trust and understanding among teachers, students, and parents/guardians. Bilingual or multilingual teachers help avoid miscommunication and can encourage students to preserve their native language while learning new ones.
Balancing cultural differences in the classroom can be difficult. A teacher must actively engage children of both minority and dominant cultures in classroom activities. These activities should provide a balance of languages, customs, and individuality of all cultures represented. Minority customs should be acknowledged equally at all times, not just on special occasions such as Cinco de Mayo, Chinese New Year, or Ramadan. Special attention will draw attention to differences, rather than focusing on similarities.
Young children learn through their five senses.
The physical arrangement of a classroom is important for children with disabilities. Children with physical disabilities that impair movement should be able to access materials with limited effort. Child care facilities should be kept in general order, and placement of desks and materials should remain constant to accommodate students with limited sight. Consistency and order with minimal outside distractions are needed to assist the comprehension of children with hearing impairment.
When choosing learning materials for a multicultural classroom, look for lessons and training materials that have instructions in several languages. If multilingual instructions cannot be found, ask a peer or parent to translate. It is important that facility signs be in several languages, particularly signs directing students to different areas around the facility, procedural signs, and restrooms signs.
Books, images, toys, music, and foods should reflect a variety of cultures. If items cannot be found that depict the culture of an individual student, ask the parents/guardians to bring photographs, games, or toys from home. Common nursery rhymes, stories, and songs can be translated into other languages. Include pictures and stories that include children with disabilities as well as from other cultures. Children with physical handicaps can be included in activities by using magnetic toys and attachable musical instruments, such as bells.
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