SUSY'S FAMILY CHILDCARE
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: It Starts in Early Childhood
Everyone has the right to be treated with respect and dignity, regardless of their sex, gender identity, gender expression, age, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or physical disability. Creating an environment where every member of your community feels safe and respected starts in early childhood. Teaching children to care about and learn from one another will provide a foundation for cultivating respectful relationships later in life. Join us as we explore ways to teach diversity, equity, and inclusion from an early age!
Here's How We Can Introduce Our Younger Generation to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are all essential to supporting students' learning at school, but they also help create an environment where students feel comfortable with who they are and the world around them. Educators can play a pivotal role in helping shape young people's worldview by focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion from an early age. Here are four ways you can introduce diversity, equity, and inclusion into your classroom or preschool services!
1. Teach About Cultural Differences
Children can learn about other cultures in a variety of ways. The most important aspect of such lessons is that they're positive and respectful to all cultures (and allow students to use their own experiences as a jumping-off point). When talking about differences, it's important to teach young children to accept all different kinds of people and treat others with kindness and respect regardless of their race or ethnicity—no matter what! You can do so by discussing your own culture with your students. For example, when you bring in music from your native country for an art project or craft, discuss why it's meaningful to you personally.
2. Use Social and Emotional Learning Tools
Look for opportunities to teach students how to identify, understand, and manage emotions so they can build relationships and work effectively with others. You may want to talk about different ways of communicating—how some people use body language as well as words, or how some people might feel intimidated by talking in front of a group of people (or anyone at all!). Practice shows that when students get lessons on social-emotional learning early on, they're more likely to continue building these skills throughout their educational career. Collaborative activities give kids a chance to practice their interpersonal skills while also fostering kindness, teamwork, and empathy—and making them better prepared for success once school is out!
3. Foster Student Advocacy and Empowerment
One of our roles as educators is to make sure that all students feel like they belong like they matter. When we don't include everyone (whether purposefully or not), we perpetuate a feeling of isolation—and it doesn't take long for kids to lose confidence when they don't feel empowered to raise their hands and offer their ideas or opinions during classroom discussions or one-on-one time with teachers or other students. Encourage your young learners to speak up when they see someone being left out; maybe even develop a school rule about not staying silent if you see someone else getting bullied! From there, you can talk about what bullying looks like so everyone feels safe talking about these issues rather than being afraid to speak up for themselves or others.
4. Engage Students in Community Projects
Getting your students involved in a community project helps them see how their actions affect people around them—even those who live outside of school walls! You can encourage a class community garden or a service-learning project where students work together to fix up a local park or to help an elderly person with small home repairs. Or give students opportunities to make monetary donations as an alternative form of giving back (especially if they're young). When done correctly, these activities often inspire empathy as well as create meaningful relationships between your students and community members—which will hopefully lead them to future service projects!
Once you introduce diversity, equity, and inclusion into early childhood education, it becomes harder for these lessons to be ignored once children grow older. This isn't to say that they won't encounter different ideas as they get older—that definitely happens! However, with a strong foundation of empathy, respect, critical thinking skills, and tolerance under their belts from an early age, kids are more likely to have a better understanding of how to respond when they come across situations that challenge their beliefs or world views.