Cultural Diversity and Social Justice in Early Childhood Education

Cultural Diversity and Social Justice in Early Childhood Education

We recognise that Cultural Diversity in childcare is essential if we want to live in a society that values equality and justice for all.

The first five years of life are considered a period of rapid and radical changes in child development. During this period, a child’s brain develops quickly and radically – more than a million neural connections are created every second during the first five years of life. New experiences help children learn and form a sense of identity.

In other words, children from very young ages learn about the world around them and their place in it. They internalise social messages from their parents, caregivers, early childhood educators, and other caring adults.

These agents of socialisation often send messages about what is and what is not acceptable and valued. Young children from the earliest age internalise lessons about privilege and power, ethnicity, race, language, and sexual orientation.

Such messages can have long-lasting consequences not only for a child but also for a whole society.

Cultural Diversity in Childcare Centres

In a society that strives for cultural diversity and social justice, respect for diversity in childcare is a foundation for raising generations who highly value equality and fairness.

A lot of families in our centre come from different cultural and often multi-lingual backgrounds. For many families, immigration and a struggle to assimilate in a new culture can often disrupt family dynamics and often, they may feel torn between cultures.

Cultural diversity in childcare provides opportunities to understand, respect, and celebrate diverse cultures among families, children, teachers, and Australia’s indigenous culture.[i]

We recognise that our educators and staff need to address injustice and show their respect for diversity by celebrating differences in age, gender, disabilities, race, ethnicity, social, cultural, and economic backgrounds. [ii]

Social Justice in Childcare

As defined by the United Nations, “Social justice is the view that everyone deserves equal economic, political, and social rights and opportunities.”

Social justice in childcare settings means that every child has equal rights, equal opportunities, and equal treatment. It means that children who are traditionally disadvantaged have the same educational and social opportunities.[iii]

How to Promote Respect for Diversity in Childcare

We recognise that our early childhood educators have a social and moral responsibility to promote social justice and support equity for children of different gender, abilities, diverse cultural and socio-economic backgrounds, and sexual orientations.[iv]

To nurture cultural diversity in our classrooms, our centre and educators strive to adopt the following guidelines:

  •   Keep in mind that each family is unique
  •   Get to know each family
  •   Develop relationships with families that promote trust
  •   Encourage families to participate in cultural activities
  •   Encourage families to discuss cultural diversity at home
  •   Nurture and model inclusive behaviour
  •   Express interest in diverse cultures
  •   Ask questions to avoid misunderstanding or offending our families
  •   Choose themes for our classroom that celebrate diversity and inclusion
  •   Celebrate diversity through children’s artwork
  •   Keep a calendar of Cultural and Religious Dates across our centre and classrooms
  •   Help children and families socialise with others in our community

Our educators strive to show respect for diversity and celebrate differences to strengthen each child’s self-identity and confidence while promoting inclusive practice in childcare and the community.

If you would like to know more about how we approach cultural diversity in our centre, please call us on (07) 5527 1679 

 

Sources:
[i] https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/rp0809/09rp29
 [ii] https://child.unl.edu/cultural-diversity
 [iii] https://www.un.org/esa/socdev/documents/ifsd/SocialJustice.pdf
 [iv] http://www.resourcingparents.nsw.gov.au/ContentFiles/Files/diversity-in-practice-tipsheet-2.pdf

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