Childcare providers play an important role in shaping children’s awareness of their own cultural identity and helping them learn to celebrate the cultural identities of others. Building a multicultural daycare takes intentionality. Together, you and your staff can help little ones grow wonder and respect for people from all cultures and family backgrounds. Read on to learn about several ways you can build a multicultural daycare.
Get to Know the Families You Serve
Really take the time to get to know the families you serve at your daycare. Initiate conversation. Ask questions. Learn where families are from and what their cultural background is. Discover the important things parents want you to know about their child’s culture and family background. Only by getting to know the families you serve can you hope to meet the needs of your culturally diverse families and their children.
If parents do not speak English as a first language, you will need to find a way to communicate that will open the doors for a good relationship and help you meet their needs. Using an interpreter, offering digital parent communication tools that have a built-in translation feature, and providing important childcare-related documents in parents’ native language can be appropriate and respectful ways to overcome language barriers and encourage communication.
Once you get to know your daycare families, help them feel engaged by inviting them to share different aspects of their family and cultural background with their child’s daycare class. Host a show-and-tell, invite families to bring a cultural food dish to share, ask parents to come in and share a story, a tradition, or a meaningful item with their child’s class, and find other ways to celebrate the unique cultural identities that are represented by your daycare families.
Promote Cultural Diversity Among Your Staff
Be intentional to promote cultural diversity among your daycare staff. Hire qualified teachers from a variety of cultures and family backgrounds. Promote respect for diverse backgrounds among your team of teachers. Provide training and ongoing learning opportunities for your teachers to equip them with the knowledge and skills to promote cultural diversity in their classrooms and integrate respect for different backgrounds in their teaching programs.
A multicultural daycare must have a whole-organization approach in which every teacher is on board. Your entire staff should subscribe to the shared values of cultural diversity, respect, and inclusion. This can be accomplished with professional training, ongoing communication with your staff, and remedial efforts if problems arise. Your daycare teachers will be some of the first influencers of a child’s perception of his or her world and the people in it, and those impressions can last a lifetime. Make sure your entire staff is aligned on the values you want to promote at your daycare.
Celebrate Different Cultures in the Classroom
Encourage children to explore their own cultural identity and learn about different cultures by celebrating cultural heritage in the classroom. Decorate your daycare classrooms with artwork and images that reflect our multicultural society. Children will benefit greatly from a classroom environment that showcases people with a variety of skin tones, traditional clothes, and family groups. Maps of the world and country flags can be used as decorations in the classroom to help children begin to understand their multicultural world.
Use a culturally diverse curriculum to celebrate different family heritages. Explore different countries, cultures, and people groups with age-appropriate lessons, play, and activities. Celebrate culturally-specific holidays besides Christmas and Hanukkah, such as Chinese New Year, Cinco de Mayo, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, and Diwali. Finding ways to help children learn about and explore a variety of cultures, including their own, will help them develop a wonder and appreciation for cultural differences.
Teach Children Respect for Diversity
Teaching children to respect diversity and celebrate differences during their formative years is crucial. Children are born into this world a blank slate without preconceived ideas about themselves and people who are different from them. Children form ideas about other cultures based on what they are taught; therefore, it is important to teach them the beauty of cultural diversity. They will carry these early lessons with them into adulthood.
Use your daycare environment as an opportunity to teach children to respect and celebrate different cultures, by showing interest in cultural activities, asking respectful questions, and encouraging their curiosity with age-appropriate resources. Your multicultural daycare will equip little ones with values and ethos that will ultimately help them become thoughtful, kind, and culturally-sensitive adults later in life.
How do you promote cultural diversity in your childcare center? We would love to hear from you! Share your insights in the comment section below.
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