inside: learn more about promoting diversity in the preschool classroom with these activities and approaches and why this is important for young children. keeping our minds open to changing our methods allows us to grow as educators, ensuring that we are offering the best support for our children. “doesn’t this promote separation of races? we shouldn’t treat each other differently depending on race.” the definition of diversity is simply a range of different things. when children learn very early that differences are normal, they learn to view them without a lens of discomfort. you may hear questions about why their skin isn’t the same as another child’s, why someone needs to use a wheelchair, how people speak other languages, and more beginning around this age. how am i supposed to explain to a three-year-old about racism, poverty, and disability?
young children need honesty, simplicity, and their own time to process new concepts. it’s the way that they hear us talk about these differences that impacts how they view them. read multicultural books – learning about cultures through books allows children to connect with the experiences of the characters on the pages. (things to share and remember) play dough metaphor – prepare bundles of plain uncolored play dough and have children help knead food coloring in while talking about how the dough is all similar even though the colors are different. relate this to how everyone on the inside has feelings and thoughts. (removing the stumbling block) read books about poverty/hunger – this selection of children’s books touch on the concept of inequality in a way that is understandable and not too heavy. (strongluv) read books about multiracial families – share with children how families can be made up of all different appearances, and that love is what matters in a family. (life love liz) teach simple sign language – integrate simple signs for familiar words and common phrases such as “all done”.
teaching diversity to preschoolers provides a broad understanding of how children are each unique in their own ways. as children are challenged with new ideas, critical thinking skills are ignited and compassion for others is developed. use a passport concept as a way to expose pre-school children to different countries. if possible, invite a guest speaker to share information about the country. bring a hat that is representative of the country you are studying and take a photo of each child wearing it. when each passport is filled, they can take them home to remember their cultural journey. teach your pre-school class about honoring similarities and differences by using apples as a lesson theme. talk about the importance of getting to know what’s on the inside before judging what they see on the outside.
use this as a way to demonstrate that people may be different but often have many similarities. bring a stone and let the children know that native americans use a talking stone as a way to honor and respect the thoughts of each person in the circle. pass the stone to the first child in the circle and ask them to share something special about their family. remind them about the importance of listening to others and showing respect for what each person has to say. ask each child to find out three unique aspects of their family heritage. students will feel good about having an opportunity to talk about their family background and the class will build an appreciation of differences. this activity connects family involvement to classroom learning. she is the author and co-author of 12 books and serves as a consultant in k-12 and higher education.
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