Strategies for exploring Diversity and Inclusion in the classroom
In our ever-changing cultural landscape, celebrating similarities and differences from a young age promotes positive acceptance and healthy peer interaction. As a child care provider, there are several ways you can show your students, parents, and teachers the importance of inclusion and how to embrace diversity in the classroom.
Provide Teacher Training
As family environments evolve, specialized training can educate teachers on how to be considerate of -and sensitive to – the circumstances and needs of their students. Despite the most benevolent intentions, a simple word or action can be easily misinterpreted. Offering workshops or classes in diversity training and inclusion is a proactive way to ensure your staff is familiar with how to interact with children from any background or situation.
Create an Environment of Diversity and Inclusion
Toddlers can begin to understand differences among their peers through visual aids in the classroom. Put up a poster with words or numbers in multiple languages. Reference it as you recite the variations with your students. Fill the walls with images of children and families from many different geographic and cultural groups. Use a classroom calendar that shows seasonal holidays around the world and talk about them with your students.
Offer Enrichment Programs
Overcoming the fear of something unknown is a key part of toddlers understanding diversity. Enrichment programs like dance, gymnastics, technology, and language all introduce new concepts and social situations that teach preschoolers not to fear change while adapting to it.
Engage with Families
Caregivers that know their communities well and make family involvement a priority can engage with relatives to provide better quality care for their children. Inclusion means reaching out to parents to learn about any special considerations or cultural factors that you can incorporate in the classroom. Coordinating an outreach event like Family Foods day, where students bring a dish they would traditionally eat at home, is a fun way to celebrate different backgrounds. It gets parents involved and gives students the opportunity to try lots of new things.
If you’re interested in the topic of diversity you might find this piece on Teaching Diversity to Preschoolers Without the “Tourist Approach”Teaching Diversity to Preschoolers Without the “Tourist Approach” to be a good resource.
Do you teach in an inclusive setting or know of other ways to encourage diversity and acceptance? Join the conversation on Facebook.