Be Child Care Aware: Multicultural Curriculums Foster Respect of Others

Cheri M. Gioe, Merrill, Thomas A.  |  4/19/2005 10:28:28 PM

News You Can Use For July 2004

Even young infants are able to recognize differences around them!

It is for this reason that teachers should provide educational experiences and create classroom environments that are reflective of the culture, opinions and attitudes of the families of the children they serve, says LSU AgCenter child-care associate Cheri Gioe.

"Young children from different cultures often have to endure major adjustments when adapting to a child-care or school environment," Gioe says. "These adjustments may include but are not limited to learning a new language, smell, routine or type of food.

"A quality early care program takes whatever measures are necessary to provide a welcoming environment for all children – an environment where all children experience a sense of belonging and security."

The LSU AgCenter expert says early care environments and caregivers that are sensitive to other cultures have the following similar characteristics:

–They focus on the child’s needs, not the child’s culture.

–The present other cultures to children and celebrate the beauty of these cultures.

–They use many cultures to teach the concepts of same, yet different

–They encourage bilingualism and use words from different languages to help children feel comfortable in the environment.

–They focus on the obvious fact that our world is multicultural and very diverse.

–They have a curriculum that promotes recognition, understanding and acceptance of cultural diversity and individual uniqueness.

Gioe says these are some of the easiest and most effective ways to promote cultural diversity in early care programs:

–Using multicultural literature. Through this, children learn that people from a variety of backgrounds and cultural groups have been instrumental in creating history!

–Role playing, which is an excellent way to ensure children are exposed to a variety of cultures.

–Using pictures depicting people from the various nationalities of children who are cared for.

–Having families bring familiar items from home to make the environment seem more home-like and comfortable.

–Having parents play an important role in developing and implementing the curriculum by getting them to volunteer to help in the child-care environment.

"The purpose of providing a multicultural environment and curriculum is to help children become aware from a very young age of the diverse world in which we live and to learn about many of the wonderful cultures the world has," Gioe says.

The LSU AgCenter’s "Be Child Care Aware!" educational program is designed to educate parents and child-care providers about quality child care. It is funded, in part, through a contract with the Louisiana Department of Social Services’ Office of Family Support.

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Contacts: Cheri Gioe at (225) 578-6701 or cgioe@agcenter.lsu.edu
Editor: Tom Merrill at (225) 578-2263 or tmerrill@agcenter.lsu.edu

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