- Foster a Sense of Self
- Celebrate Differences in Others
- Teach About Fairness
- Try It
- Wrap Up
- cultural diversity: the different beliefs, religions, languages, family heritage, socio-economic background, and ethnicities in a group
- ethnicity: a societal grouping based on place of origin of a person and his or her ancestors
- linguistic diversity: the many different home languages spoken in a group
- race: a societal grouping based on physical and biological characteristics that people share
Celebrate Differences in Others
Before watching this video, read the text below. When instructed, watch the video from the beginning to end.
As children develop their self-identities, they should also be learning acceptance of themselves and others—that each of us are alike and each of us are different, and that we are all valuable in our own way. You can convey this message of acceptance by highlighting the ways in which children are alike and different from their peers. Help children see the richness in their diversity.
- Help children understand how they are different and alike—in skin color, body size and shape, hairstyles or textures, home languages, clothing, foods, holidays, and so on.
- Prompt children to express their thoughts and ideas about differences through planned conversations using pictures, questions, or books. Show diverse cultures, languages, and traditions; girls or boys or men and women in nontraditional roles; or differently-abled children and adults demonstrating strengths and abilities. Explore universal themes with images of children of different cultures.
- Give children the appropriate language to talk about differences in a respectful way. When children make hurtful or insensitive comments about others, model language that acknowledges the difference in an open and honest way, while deflecting negative connotations. For example, when a child asks, "Why does Joseph have a weird arm?" Respond, Everyone has differences in their bodies. Joseph has a different arm. It’s not okay to say that Joseph has a weird arm because that hurts his feelings. It is okay to say that Joseph has a different arm.
- Respond to expressions of dislike or bias immediately with positive, kind, and explanatory language. For example, Yes, David wears glasses. He is lucky because he can see better when he has them on. Or, Marisol knows the words to that song in Spanish. Let’s ask her to teach us the words she knows. When a hurtful statement is made, do not confront the child who said it to make him or her feel uncomfortable. Gently correct the statement. The child will learn more appropriate ways to express his or her opinions or observations.
In this video, you’ll see the experiences children have as they learn about human differences and how this focus on celebrating diversity requires careful and deliberate planning from educators. As you watch, look for effective strategies used by the educators in the video and jot down answers to this viewing question in your Learning Log.
- How do the educators help children see how they are alike and also how they are different?
Why is it important for you to take note of and talk openly about diversity?
- Children are concrete thinkers. They recognize when a peer looks different, speaks another language, or is differently-abled.
- By talking about differences openly, educators can teach children how to acknowledge and celebrate them.
- A frank discussion of differences, when carefully planned and skillfully taught, can help children see diversity as valuable and important.
How can you model appropriate responses to issues of human differences?
- Use language that acknowledges the child’s observation. For instance, if a child says “Carlos talks funny,” respond, Carlos is learning to speak English. Saying that he “talks funny” can hurt his feelings. Maybe you could help Carlos learn some more words in English and he could help you learn some words in Spanish.
- Choose words that help children see differences as “normal” human characteristics so that they learn how to treat those differences with respect. (Everyone has differences. Isabelle has a different way of walking. It’s not okay to say that Isabelle walks funny because that hurts her feelings. It is okay to say that Isabelle walks differently.)
What is the long-term benefit of teaching about diversity?
- Children learn to see and appreciate the similarity and the diversity of humans in their world.
- Children will grow to be more accepting of their own and others’ differences.
- Celebrating diversity helps children recognize and reject bias against race, language, culture, gender, abilities, and so on.
Think about the learning environment at your own program as you answer these reflection questions in your Learning Log.
- What strategies do you use to discuss individual differences among children in your learning environment?
- What did you learn that you will put into practice in your learning environment?