The preschool years are a great time for children to learn about other cultures. During this time, kids are naturally curious about new experiences and very accepting of others’ differences. Both helping children learn about the importance of accepting others and learning about their cultures are important for children.
Bringing Diversity Into the Classroom
There are two ways of helping children learn to understand and appreciate cultural differences. One is by fostering a multicultural environment that helps kids accept each others’ differences. The other is through the use of lessons and activities that help put this understanding into focus.
Examples of encouraging multiculturalism include:
- Placing books with multicultural characters in the classroom
- Taking advantage of so-called teachable moments when students have questions
- Use posters depicting children of diverse backgrounds
- Offering crayons and paint in enough shades to allow children to color and paint in the shades of their choice
- When possible, use dolls of different backgrounds and with ethnic clothing, as appropriate
Accepting Differences and Recognizing Similarities
Children need to accept differences, but also remember that we have much in common. Cultural differences should not be taught in a way that makes kids treat those different from them as oddities. A sense of mutual respect in the lessons will help children learn to accept the culture and values of others.
Some of the ways to achieve this balance include:
- Encouraging an atmosphere of respect for all
- Helping children express themselves while embracing the self-expression of their peers
- Don’t discourage children from asking questions
Fun Activities to Encourage Multiculturalism
Some of the best ways for children to learn to appreciate other cultures are through activities. These help children learn about other cultures together. The group setting provides an interactive element that you can be sure kids will love.
- Consider having a teacher and students from a class in another country talk with your students via videoconferencing
- Put together a bulletin board display with family photos or other pictures celebrating your students’ heritage
- Encourage everyone to sing familiar songs in different languages, or even the alphabet or numbers
Group activities for kids that involve other cultures help give them more of a sense of familiarity. They will be able to learn that, although there are differences, the lives of kids in other cultures have many similarities to theirs. Because kids learn most of their lessons about tolerance at any early age, these efforts will make a difference.
Montessori School of Fremont uses the Montessori Method to let children explore different cultures through hands-on and interactive learning experiences. They embrace diversity and encourage children to learn what makes each of us unique and special. Schedule a tour today at Montessori School of Fremont to see how our teachers foster inclusion and open mindedness both inside and outside the classroom.