Children interact with peers who come from different ethnic backgrounds or share different values, religions and beliefs. If those differences are seeing positively, children learn to respect and enjoy diversity. This helps them develop their own identity positively.
The article “Learning to Live Together; Children and Cultural Diversity” published by Avance (go ahead) Houston suggests that diversity should be addressed first at home; parents should foster open communication. They should not ignore their children’s questions about cultural, ethnic or other differences. By ignoring them, they would be sending the message that "there is something wrong about those differences". Parents can foster diversity by setting an example; the family could attend a multicultural festival together and enjoy food from other countries.
The article “Play and Cultural Diversity” from the Journal of Educational Issue of Language Minority Students explains that the toys children prefer and the type of games they play are affected by cultural and socioeconomic factors. The article cites a study in which children from different ethnic backgrounds preferred white dolls to those that resembled their own races. Research also shows that socioeconomic levels affect the way kids play; children from middle-class homes show more cooperative play than those from other classes.
The article “Play and Cultural Diversity” claims that by the age of three, children are already aware of gender and racial differences and by the age of five they become aware of limitations such as physical and mental disabilities. By the time children enter preschool, they already have been influenced by their homes and society. Preschool teachers need to foster a class environment in which children learn to acknowledge and appreciate diversity. Teachers can use play and literature to promote inclusiveness and respect. The article “Precious Children; Diversity in the Classroom” published by PBS suggests sharing stories and traditions.
The article “Research Knowledge and Policy Issues in Cultural Diversity and Education” published by the U.S. Department of Education explains that children’s achievement is affected by cultural differences. The article claims that American classrooms have a whole-class organization where teachers are leaders who share their knowledge with the class, give students time to practice and assess them. Children from different backgrounds may not be able to pay attention when learning in this type of setting because they are used to learning in groups collaborating with their classmates.
The article “Research Knowledge and Policy Issues in Cultural Diversity and Education” explains how services delivered to children such as school-therapy sessions could be affected by cultural diversity issues. The article claims that therapists might experience difficulties establishing rapport and understanding children from different cultural backgrounds if they are not familiar with their values and attitudes.
- Photo Credit children image by Marzanna Syncerz from Fotolia.com
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