Diversity encompasses all of the differences that people possess as humans. It includes differences in race, language, gender, socio-economic status, ethnicity, nationality, abilities, exceptionalities, and geographical placement. Diversity consists of a quality that make individuals dissimilar and that brings to the classroom individuals existence experiences, abilities, talents, character traits, and preferences that enhance individuals being (Pearson, 2000). Children’s individual interests and capabilities, racial and cultural differences, age and gender difference and language differences play a part in classroom diversity.
Diversity should be taught starting in the Early Childhood classrooms. The concept of diversity of the early childhood classroom includes the perspectives of multiculturalism and non sexist and antibias education. The classroom differences can also include the social realities that affect children and communities, including availability of economic resources, access to technology, and health and safety concerns. Another full and active participate in diversity are children with disabilities. In a number of the school settings today you can find a growing number of special needs children.
These children have disabilities ranging from hyperactivity, attention deficit disorder, speech and language difficulties, blindness, deafness, mental retardation, and physical impairments. The Americans with Disabilities Act has better equipped society to meet the needs and challenges of special needs children, yet many teachers have little to no special training to deal with these students. The challenge of implementing training and proper classroom settings for special needs students falls on the fact that the school administrators and teachers encounter financial, cultural, and social obstacles.
The many different problems that fall underneath the diversity category are growing each year and are becoming a growing factor for early childhood education. Teachers can help with diversity by bringing the positive side of it into the classroom. There are curriculums available that support diversity. Teachers should include classroom materials from many cultures that reflect the diversity within specific cultures as well as other cultures. Books should be chosen that reflect diversity. Teachers should choose books from many cultures to read to your children.
Children should be able to see faces similar to theirs in the books that are shared with them. Books should be examined for authenticity and true portrayals of diverse individuals and groups. Include diverse individuals in wall and room decorations. When children see themselves reflected in classroom materials, they understand that who they are is valued, accepted and deemed important. This simple act can make the difference in how well children are motivated to learn. Teachers should use language with children that demonstrate an acceptance of all cultures. Teacher’s word choices indicate acceptance of and often determine behavior in children.
Teachers choose words carefully and avoid those that would convey a negative connotation when none is intended (Faber & Mazlish, 1999). Life is given to words when individuals speak them, and children usually try to live up to adults’ characterizations of them. Teachers can expect the best from all children and communicate that expectation to them in positive and motivating ways. Teachers should consider field trips that are taken and who the guest speakers are. If all field trips are reflective of one culture, students never have an opportunity to see themselves or individuals in their communities as something of value.
Teachers can get guest speakers that represent as many diverse individuals as possible. When all speakers come from one group, the message sent to children is that individuals from their particular group have little to share with them. Teachers can look at cultural celebrations and when they are celebrated. Contributions of many cultures should be shared throughout the year and not only at specified times during the year. Each culture has its own beliefs, customs, rituals, religions, and business and academic achievements that make it both unique and great.
Celebrate them. Teachers should challenge themselves to learn as much as they can about the children they teach. For many, this may mean moving outside of their comfort zones and exploring different ways of living. This knowledge helps to locate a point of identification with the student and will facilitate teaching and learning. Knowledge about children’s home lives and the ways in which they are being acculturated in this society can help a teacher be more effective in classroom instruction (Greenberg, 2002).
This knowledge may also serve as a source of enrichment and enlightenment for all children. Good teachers claim that they do not see color in their classrooms. Teachers should plan to include on a regular basis topics that challenge yourself to think beyond your own way of living. Teachers should choose and encourage reading materials that will better prepare you other teachers and childcare workers to interact with a variety of individuals. These materials can serve as a common experience for them to draw upon in discussions at faculty and staff meetings.
Through these discussions, teachers should feel free and open to discuss their own previously held biases and examine ways in which they can become more knowledgeable and accepting of diverse individuals. Choose to include professional faculty and staff of diverse backgrounds when hiring for various positions. It is not enough to talk about valuing diversity and then continue to hire only from within a certain group. Truly understanding diversity means that biases rooted in stereotypes have no place within the work environment. It also means that talents and abilities are recognized in all.
Once hired, these individuals should have equal consideration for promotions within the organization. Teachers should establish positive relationships with diverse parents by communicating in ways that make them feel comfortable and accepted. Teachers need to use language that is plain, simple, and easily understood. Open and clear communication is the key in parent interactions. If there is a language barrier get the aid of someone who speaks that language. Learn as much as possible about the family language and culture and include appropriate aspects of that information in classroom instruction.
Teachers should invite parents to their classroom to share various aspects of their lives with your children. Allowing them to share information and experiences will send a clear message to all that you value their differences and view them as an asset for your learning community. Their sharing will broaden and deepen mutual understandings with you, the family, and the child. Teachers need to respond to parents’ needs and concerns in an equitable manner, making sure that all voices are heard and not merely those with which you agree or those with which you are most familiar or comfortable.
Teachers can choose to show parents that they are an important member of the team that is responsible for educating their child. Children are like little sponges that soak up everything that they hear and see. Children are around two or three years old when they begin to notice the difference among people. Children notice things like being short or tall, long hair or short hair, light skin or dark skin and different eye color. The way that children deal with the changes between people is influenced by what they see and hear at home (Williams, 1972).
When the adults at home are speaking out loud about their bias opinions children hear that. The children then think that the adults are right and tend to form the same opinions. For some adults, biased statements are unintentional. The smallest things can spark this including gender statements, “Tommy, boys don’t play with dolls, they play with trucks. ” This is implying that boys should play with boy things and girls should play with girl things. Adults should embrace the fact that boys want to play with dolls and look at it in the way of the child will grow to be a good father.
The things people say can be the accelerator for children’s intolerance for certain groups of people or the underlying cause of children’s acceptance of individuals. Children will have a natural curiosity about the differences between themselves and others. This curiosity isn’t yet linked to any positive or negative thoughts about different groups of people (Williams, 2008). Teachers should consider when speaking to children to keep the child’s age and developmental stage in mind. Teachers should use words and descriptions they can understand. If a child asks “Why are Ming’s eyes funny?
” you can respond by saying, “Ming’s eyes look different because different people have different shape eyes. Ming’s parents are Chinese and many Chinese people have eyes shaped like hers. Eyes can have many different shapes and can look different” (Kupetz, 2008). This type of response shows the child a clear answer that acknowledges the difference and clearly explains it to the child. Successful home-school relations and interactions are essential for positive learning experiences for children and their families. These interactions often determine the level of support that teachers and other professionals receive from parents.
Positive home school relations are deeply rooted in teachers’ and parents’ willingness to step outside of their own comfort zones and to try to accept and respect the differences of others. Valuing diversity simply means that people are comfortable with who others are as individuals and are able to accept and appreciate the differences of ourselves and of others. Through valuing diversity, people learn to expect, respect and accept differences from others. By accepting the differences of others, people openly acknowledge and affirm the validity of those differences.
Adults understand that all people have a heritage and that heritage is rooted in beliefs, customs and behaviors that shape who individuals are. Through acceptance, people learn to listen to every voice with the same level of interest until each voice is heard and every story is told. Teachers’ demonstration of how they respect differences in others is shown in how they respond to the difference they display. The varying perspectives that individuals bring to the classroom learning environments are assets in effective decision making, teaching and learning.
Diversity in the early childhood classroom will teach the children at a young age how to accept each other. Teaching children what diversity is in the early childhood classroom will stick with them throughout their life. Teaching children at a young age how to respect one another will help the future of the world. There is so much hate in the world today. In the news you see children committing suicides over bullying. The community would love to see the future full of understanding that everyone is different and that it is accepted.
Teachers want the children of the future to not be involved in hate crimes and by teaching them at an early childhood age the morals of acceptance just might be installed in their minds and hearts. References Faber, A. , & Mazlish, E. (1999). How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk. New York, NY: Harper Paperbacks. Greenberg, P. (Ed. ). (2002, October). Bringing Home Into The Classroom. Retrieved from http://www2. scholastic. com/browse/article. jsp? id=3746853 Kupetz, B. , Ed. D. (2008). Do You See What I See? Appreciating Diversity in Early Childhood Settings.
In Earlychildhood News The Professional Resource for Teachers and Parents [Diversity in Early Childhood Settings]. Retrieved from http://www. earlychildhoodnews. com/earlychildhood/ article_view. aspx? ArticleId=147 Pearson, C. (2000, January/February). Diversity in the Early Childhood Classroom. The Fountain, (29), 1. Retrieved from http://www. fountainmagazine. com/article. php? ARTICLEID=642 Williams, D. (1972). The Preschool Years, Ages 2-5. In Beyond the Golden Rule (pp. 11-19). Retrieved from http://www. tolerance. org/sites/default/files/ general/beyond_golden_rule. pdf.
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