Jul 26, 2014

Multiculturalism in Early Childhood Settings: Embracing Diversity

An early childhood program, whether a preschool or daycare setting, should reflect the children in its care. Young children in a caring environment should be able to see themselves looking back at themselves through the material and curriculum they are surrounded by. It is essential as early childhood providers, to remember to scan our rooms and ask ourselves if we have multiculturalism in our program and environment. The following article provides ways to embrace diversity within programs for young children by including and respecting various cultures and ethnic backgrounds.

Viewing Multiculturalism in Early Childhood Environments

There are a so many ways to display multiculturalism in an early childhood curriculum consistently

1.Photos of Families: When families become apart of a preschool or daycare, ask the parents to bring in a photo of the family, then place the photo in a presentation format for everyone to view, such as a large tree titled The Family Tree or into a quilt like display with the title, Our Family Blanket. Make sure the photos are positioned in the room for everyone to see, yet low enough for young children to view.

2. Pictures of children placed up on the walls of the preschool classroom or daycare space representing diversity and inclusiveness.

Visit http://www.globalfootprints.org/diversityposters 

3. A Geography Section: an entire section of an early childhood environment could focus on the world, with maps being displayed and globes. The country or culture, being featured could have items displayed for viewing and this would be changed with each new country being learnt and represented. Alternatively, a pin could be place on the map where families originated, or where they traveled to.

Drama Area and Multiculturalism

From Kid World Citizen 

One of the areas where different cultural items and customs can be included is in the drama center of a program. The kitchen set up can have empty boxes of food from people's home, or cuisine. There are many play foods made that are diverse, such as play sushi. Find clothes that are from other cultures and place into the dress up area, and most importantly, purchase dolls that represent different skin coloring and features of people.

Preschool Lesson Plans Featuring Multiculturalism

Sometimes, one of the best ways to discuss different nationalities, cultural diversity and inclusiveness is to simply set out a lesson plan or theme topic. For instance a travel lesson plan would be a great way to discuss other places visited by the children and families themselves. A theme, All About Me, is also conducive to introducing learning lessons to preschool ages about how we are all different, and yet all the same.

Preschool Songs, Music and Dancing

Music is a wonderful way to introduce cultural diversity to preschool children. Allow children to dance with color scarves to various styles of music from around the world. Moreover, try inviting family members or community groups to dance for the children. Following are some preschool song suggestions:

  • He's(We've ) Got the Whole World in Our Hands
  • I am special, I am special, You will see, you will see, someone very special, someone very special, yes it's me, yes it's me! (sung to the tune of Frere Jacques)
  • Singing hello and good-bye in different languages

Preschool Activities to Teach Diversity and Inclusiveness

  • Three Apples: find a green, red and yellow apple and ask the children how the apples are the same and how are they different. Then peel (optional) and cut the apples sideways to display the star. Ask the children if they see any differences or if the apples are all the same inside. The apples can then be sliced and enjoyed by the children. The discussion of differences and similarities can still be continued with the taste and texture of the apple slices.

  • "I like...": in a circle, have each child turn to the child on their right or left and say, I like your (body feature) , such as eyes, hair or freckles. Encourage the children to say why they like the body feature chosen. Move around the circle. This exercise illustrates to children how we are all special in our own way.

  • Make a Book: ask each child, I am special because? Or I am beautiful because? Record the answers, and then make a book for the classroom or group to read. The children can decorate their page with artwork of their choice.

Cooking Activities to Represent Cultural Differences

Cooking from around the world is a great way to teach children about multiculturalism. The snacks could be made and enjoyed by the preschool children and teacher(s) or be brought in by the parents for a special party. The parents could be invited to stay. Another idea to expand on this one is to place recipes donated by families and make a cookbook for all to have.

Visit Sweetly Scrapped

Visual Communication for Families

If families have arrived into the preschool facility and have english as a second language, it is crucial for the teacher to be mindful that the english language (or whatever language is being spoken at the early childhood facility) is being learnt. Communication through newsletters is not the only way to send messages of upcoming events.


The teacher must remember to use visual aids in her communication, such as putting the preschool schedule into picture forms to view. When talking to parents, use the clock to discuss time and any other visual representation accessible. Similarly, with ESL children, using visual aides at circle time, such as felts on flannel boards helps with communication.

Celebrate Seasons over Holidays

Depending on the community, celebrate one holiday over another is not creating an inclusive curriculum. Sometimes the best way is to include holidays that are being celebrated by preschool children at home within the preschool lesson plans. One idea is to have program planning, such as Christmas Around the World. More than not, though, celebrating seasons over holidays is a great way to make sure the curriculum is respectful of all families.

Book Suggestions

Online Workshops in Early Childhood Education