Young children have a natural curiosity about self and surroundings that motivates exploration. They are eager to learn, responsive and receptive when concepts and skills are introduced at the appropriate level. Each educational environment for the young child has experiences that enhance cultural awareness. The home, as the first educational environment, establishes the social foundation for learning how to interact with others. The school and the community as the next educational environments have numerous and varied opportunities to explore question and discover about the unique characteristics and the significant contributions made to society by cultures. Building on the home experiences that enhance cultural awareness in the eager, responsive and receptive mind of the young child.
Whenever student academic performance is discussed, there has to be a component that focuses on the significance and the impact of the role of parents and the family as a whole. Parents possess a wealth of relevant information that can be utilized to design educational programs that provide each child the opportunity to develop his/her potential to the fullest extent possible. Parents, as the young child's first teacher, can establish and maintain an educational environment that: 1.) promotes self-awareness; 2.) encourages positive, caring interactions; and 3.) promotes pride in cultural heritage, must outline an appropriate plan. The following strategies can help parents design an educational atmosphere where the young child has an awareness of diversity:
• MAKE DIVERSITY A NATURAL AND NORMAL PART OF THE PROCESS
• Establish and maintain an educational environment that has representative and positive examples of diverse cultures
• Prepare activities and projects that incorporate diversity
• Focus on the "unique characteristics" of the diverse cultures discussed
• Provide numerous and varied educational opportunities that enable young children to experience aspects of diverse cultures (participate in community programs at the library, museum, cultural center, local school district and other community environments)
• Use literature as a means of beginning a dialogue to identify what stereotypes or misconceptions children have about diverse cultures. Use this information to develop activities that introduce, review and reinforce diversity.
Once young children leave the educational environment of home, they enter the school setting.
The school provides interactions that educate and enrich the life experiences of children. The school maintains an atmosphere to acknowledge, accept and respect each other. Teachers are the individuals ultimately responsible for designing, implementing and maintaining an educational curriculum that addresses the unique academic needs and characteristics of young children. Teachers provide parents with ideas and suggestions to reinforce the concepts and skills that have been introduced in the educational setting. Teachers utilize the community as an extension of the educational environment to develop reality-based lessons and activities. The community encompasses the home and the school. There must be a collaborative and cooperative relationship to provide young children with the appropriate experiences to obtain a solid academic and social foundation for enhancing cultural awareness.
Young children are responsive and receptive when concepts and skills are presented at the appropriate level. The home, as the first educational environment, establishes the social foundation for learning how to interact with others. Utilizing effective strategies, parents can provide experiences that are a natural and normal part of the academic developmental process. Experiences that support efforts for enhancing cultural awareness and learning to live with diversity. This is possible from the eager, responsive and receptive mind of the young child.
- American Library Association: Coretta Scott King Book Award.
- Banks, James (2014) An introduction to multicultural education (5th ed.). New York: Pearson
- Robles de Melendez, W. and Vesna Beck (2010). Teaching young children in multicultural classrooms issues, concepts and strategies (3rd ed.). United States: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
About Author / Additional Info: