Diversity in the Early Childhood Classroom
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...
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