WHY DO WE CELEBRATE CULTURAL DIVERSITY IN CHILDCARE?
Culture is a fundamental part of identity and shapes who each of us is. From the way we think, look, communicate, celebrate and even what we eat, each part of us is linked with our cultural backgrounds. Culturally responsive education draws upon the cultural knowledge, skills, and talents children and educators bring with them from their homes and communities.
Why is Cultural Diversity Important in Early Childhood Education?
Early childhood education is often the first place children are exposed to a large group of individuals with different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Cultural diversity promotes different cultures, racial and ethnic groups within our community. By ensuring there is a focus on cultural inclusion at this early stage of learning, we can help ensure that children grow up with a sense of belonging for themselves and a belief that everyone belongs. This helps encourage respectful and responsive relationships with others.
Cultural diversity in childcare provides a range of opportunities for children and families to celebrate differences. As primary role models in children’s lives, educators have the honour and responsibility to demonstrate inclusion and cultural competence to the children in their care. By working directly with our families and strengthening our community relationships, early childhood learning centres can help positively shape children’s views of the world now and well into the future.
Cultural Diversity & the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF)
Respect for diversity is the fourth principle in the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF). Each of the principles in the EYLF supports a practice that is focused on helping all children to learn and develop in relation to their learning outcomes. Respecting and celebrating diversity within the EYLF means ‘’valuing and reflecting the practices, values and beliefs of families’’. The framework also outlines the role that Educators play in promoting diversity in childcare settings, including:
planning experiences and provide resources that broaden children’s perspectives and encourage appreciation of diversity
encouraging children to listen to others and to respect diverse perspectives
demonstrating positive responses to diversity in their own behaviour and in conversations with children
engaging in interactions with children that promote respect for diversity and value distinctiveness
exploring the culture, heritage, backgrounds and traditions of each child within the context of their community
How Do We Celebrate Cultural Diversity in Childcare?
In childcare services like Heritage House Childcare & Early Learning Centres, it is important for us to create a diverse and interactive environment. From our play areas to our activity programs, cultural inclusion is at the forefront of our planning. For example, at Heritage House we have dedicated play areas in some of our centre rooms highlighting Indigenous Australian music and culture. Part of the discussions we foster through play is acknowledging the traditional landowners of Australia and being open in exploring Australia’s history.
Another important way in which we celebrate cultural diversity is by exploring the different ways people live their lives in other countries and within Australia, the different jobs people may have, the different lifestyles they may lead and the different environments they may spend their time in. Books, toys and other educational activities are planned to teach children in an interactive and inclusive way.
When it comes to communicating about celebrations, at Heritage House, we always acknowledge our diverse community by including them in our plans for celebratory occasions. For many of these events, we encourage our wider early learning community to participate and add richness to our knowledge and practices. Holiday celebrations in our centres include Teej Festival, Eid al-Adha, a variety of Christmas and Hanukkah observances, and Diwali, in which some of our Educators shared their knowledge and experiences with the children, including delicious cultural recipes. Recently, we also celebrated Magha Puja Day and the Lunar New Year in our centres. One of our favourite aspects about these celebrations is the opportunity it presents for us to invite our families to share and participate.
While most of our program is focused on teaching and celebrating cultural diversity with the children, another important factor we incorporate into our practices is the impact of cultural customs on our interactions with parents and guardians. For example, in some cultures, men do not shake women’s hands, and in others, language may be a barrier to communicating effectively. We need to uphold all our families' rights to have their culture, identities and abilities acknowledged and valued in our practices.
Children notice differences in appearance and behaviours from a young age. Not only does cultural inclusion by educators and childcare services support partnerships with families, it also creates opportunities for children to develop their self-identity. We encourage you to contact your centre regarding any cultural practices or events that you would like to share or participate in at Heritage House. You can contact us to discuss enrolments or book a tour at one of our beautiful early learning centres. Experience the Heritage House difference for yourself!