In today’s highly multicultural society, classrooms all over the globe are becoming increasingly diverse. This means that schools now admit increased numbers of children from diverse cultural backgrounds. The varied composition of students in schools brings many opportunities and challenges to educators, making it a significant issue in early childhood education. The failure to address diversity issues in early childhood school settings is not a supportive response. As a result, tutors have now begun to embrace diversity and constantly continue to foster culturally inclusive classrooms as well as adopt responsive instruction to benefit all learners. The culturally responsive approach to teaching promotes acceptance and prepares learners in early childhood settings to succeed in an exponentially interconnected world. It also helps students embrace their differences by increasing their cultural awareness and enhancing their sense of identity, as well as fostering inclusion in the classroom.
Details About the Issue of Diversity
Diversity includes race, gender, socio-economic background, and family structure. These factors work together to inform how learners and teachers interact. Regarding race, when schools fail to practice inclusiveness, students from ethnic minority groups may experience negative attitudes and perceptions about learning, thus adversely influencing their academic motivation, leading to low educational advancement. In this case, they are less likely to succeed during early childhood education. Gender difference is another problem that a young child may experience in early childhood education. Educators may fail to regard or treat young boys and girls as equal learners with both emotional and intellectual abilities (Heikkilä, 2020). A report indicates that children from low-income households are more likely to attend poorly funded and poorly functioning schools. This directly affects their educational success compared to those who are more privileged or attend institutions with more resources (Broer et al., 2019). As a result, all these factors illustrate how diversity issues may affect early childhood education.
Research on an Issue of Diversity
The issue of diversity not only relates to race, gender, and socio-economic status; it also includes different languages and cultures. For young learners (Koreans, Japanese, and Indians) whose home language and culture differ from the local customs, the transition to a school setting (where language or values are based on the majority population) may expose them to conflicting expectations. This is in regards to how they should behave and socialize (Sarı & Yüce, 2021). In this case, these learners’ language and behaviors may be so divergent that existing norms may seem peculiar when entering preschool. For instance, cultures that have shaped children to believe that they should only be seen and not heard, speaking and participating in class activities may seem unusual. Sometimes they may believe it is disrespectful to ask their teachers (adults) questions. In addition, making eye contact with teachers may also seem odd, and they may tend to be quiet and rarely active in the classroom.
Due to cultural differences, some children may be unaccustomed to playing in mixed-sex peer groups. They may also be more likely to feel uncomfortable and confused in classrooms that embody unfamiliar norms and rules for behavior (Abacioglu et al., 2020). Leaners who use English as the second language may also experience difficulties communicating in the classroom and with their peers. Similarly, the inability to acknowledge foreign learners and failure to show interest to these diverse groups are the significant challenges facing education (Sarı & Yüce, 2021). These behaviors are often perceived as learners’ reluctance to learn. However, through building diverse and inclusive school culture, educators can create classrooms that are responsive to the diverse needs of all children.
Teachers play a critical role in ensuring that diversity and equality are maintained in schools. This may be achieved through different teaching strategies and resources that meet the diverse needs of all students. Standard teaching methods cannot apply to a diverse classroom; therefore, teachers need to adopt multiple approaches for students with distinct learning needs (Tanase, 2020). For instance, teachers may use adaptive technologies like modified computer accessories for learners with physical disabilities and talking calculators for learners with dyscalculia. Such practices may ensure that learning is accessible to all students. Additionally, teachers may use multiple instructions and teaching strategies such as differentiated instructions, project-based learning, and blended learning to assist learners with diverse needs. Teachers may also incorporate collaborative learning to create an opportunity for all students to contribute to different class projects (Jia & Nasri, 2019). Likewise, teachers need to set clear rules regarding how the learners treat each other. They need to clarify that all students are equal and should treat each other respectfully despite the religious, racial, and socio-cultural differences. This may create an all-inclusive environment where all students feel recognized and appreciated.
Incorporating diversity in lesson plans helps to counter stereotypes in schools. Teachers need to adopt culturally responsive teaching by broadening their lesson plans, particularly in social sciences and humanities. In this case, they should expose learners to diverse cultures in deep and meaningful ways that promote the inclusion of all students. Teachers may also bring diverse speakers to talk to the students about different cultural perspectives in real-life contexts. Diversity in schools may also be achieved by using references and analogies of other cultures in lessons and class tasks to assist learners with diverse backgrounds to connect on an individual level (Tanase, 2020). In addition, teachers need to connect with students at a personal level. This may help teachers understand their students’ ethnic backgrounds, preferred learning styles, and hobbies, enlightening them on how to cater to each student’s learning needs. Teachers may also encourage students to extensively research their cultures and present the information to their peers. This may assist the students in understanding their cultures better while exposing other learners to diverse cultural concepts (Tanase, 2020). Acknowledging the cultural differences in class creates a safe environment for all learners.
School leaders should advocate for diversity in learning institutions to ensure equity among the students. Some of the advocacy measures for school principals may include implementing inclusive hiring practices to attract diverse teachers (Nevarez, 2019). Sometimes, principals may deliberately employ teachers from marginalized communities to help meet the needs of students from such groups. A diverse teaching workforce ensures that all learners’ unique needs are met, resulting in better performance and reduced disciplinary issues. This is because teachers from minority groups act as mentors for students from marginalized areas (Nevarez, 2019). It also gives students more opportunities to interact and seek clarifications from their teachers because they can relate to them. Similarly, school principals need to ensure that all teachers receive diversity training. The training assists the teaching staff to develop self-awareness and address their own biases to clearly understand the needs of their diverse learners (Jia & Nasri, 2019). Exploring how the issues of gender, class and race overlap and create discrimination may help teachers better understand marginalized students’ unique needs.
School principals should champion the creation of an inclusive curriculum and the implementation of diverse teaching approaches. The objective of an inclusive curriculum is to guarantee increased student engagement and recognition. This may be achieved by promoting multiculturalism in lessons and encouraging teachers to use resources that contain multi-ethnic themes. In addition, teachers may adopt various teaching techniques to meet all their students’ unique needs (Tanase, 2020). In this case, apart from the traditional teacher-centered strategy, teachers may also adopt cooperative learning to ensure that all students actively contribute to the classroom activities. The differentiated learning approach is also crucial in guaranteeing that assignments are allocated based on the learners’ unique needs (Jia & Nasri, 2019). Thus, principals promote diversity by ascertaining that teachers adopt an inclusive curriculum and multiple teaching strategies to meet all students’ learning needs.
In conclusion, it is the universal right of every child to be offered the opportunity to learn and intellectually grow to the best of their ability. Therefore, early childhood educators must facilitate effective, inclusive pedagogies and programs in their educational systems to cater to the diverse students and families who may attend those institutions. Additionally, teachers have a responsibility to guarantee diversity in schools. This may be achieved through using multiple teaching strategies, setting rules that encourage equality, and incorporating diversity in lesson plans. School principals also promote diversity through employing diverse teaching staff, training teachers on diversity, and ensuring that the learning institutions adopt an inclusive curriculum.
Abacioglu, C. S., Volman, M., & Fischer, A. H. (2020). Teachers’ multicultural attitudes and perspective taking abilities as factors in culturally responsive teaching. The British Journal of Educational Psychology, 90(3), 736–752. Web.
Broer, M., Bai, Y., & Fonseca, F. (2019). Socio-economic inequality and educational outcomes: An introduction. IEA Research for Education, 1-6. Web.
Heikkilä, M. (2020). Gender equality work in preschools and early childhood education settings in the Nordic countries—An empirically based illustration. Palgrave Communications, 6(1). Web.
Jia, Y., & Nasri, N. (2019). A systematic review: Competence of teachers in implementation of culturally responsive pedagogy. Creative Education, 10(12), 3118-3130. Web.
Nevarez, C., Jouganatos, S., & Wood, J. L. (2019). Benefits of teacher diversity: Leading for transformative change. Journal of School Administration Research and Development, 4(1), 24-34.
Samuels, A.J. (2018). Exploring culturally responsive pedagogy: Teachers’ perspectives on fostering equitable and inclusive classrooms. SRATE Journal, 27, 22-30.
Sarı M. H., Yüce E. (2020). Problems experienced in classrooms with students from different cultures. Journal on Efficiency and Responsibility in Education and Science, 13(2), 90-100. Web.
Tanase, M. (2020). Is good teaching culturally responsive? Journal of Pedagogical Research, 4(3), 187-202. Web.