This post is in partnership with ChildCare Education Institute, a StraighterLine Company.
Early childhood educators have long to-do lists, daily to-dos, and big-picture ones. Often, we have to divide these lists into to-do and must-do because we don’t have as much time as we’d like to achieve everything. Creating and maintaining a multicultural early childhood education classroom is more than a to-do. It is a must-do. I’m guessing many of you know this. Still, you might not know how to make a multicultural classroom, or maybe you are like me and need to check in from time to time to ensure you are still adhering to best practices and providing your students with the best quality early education you can! Let me help you.
First and foremost, you must clearly understand what anti-bias education and multiculturalism are.
We know from ample research that the teacher is the most powerful tool in any early childhood classroom, especially a well-trained teacher. If you want to dive into the antibias framework, you could spend years reading scholarly articles and books, but most of us don’t have the time for that. However, we all need to understand and practice the basics. One of the ways I love refreshing my practice is to use ChildCare Education Institute’s online professional development courses. I recently took Creating a Multicultural Environment, and it was the perfect tool to stay up to date with my knowledge and understanding of antibias education. It gave me great practical tips for making a multicultural preschool class work. It’s perfect for early childhood educators who are eager to learn the basics and how to create a multicultural classroom. For those considering or working towards your CDA certification, this course is part of the ChildCare Education Institute’s CDA training program path.
How To Make A Multicultural Preschool Classroom
- Understand a tourist curriculum and avoid using it as your multicultural curriculum.I was so glad to see this point in the Creating A Multicultural Environment course because it is paramount to creating a multicultural classroom. A tourist curriculum is a curriculum where you include “other” cultures only during particular times, for example, Chinese cultural activities during the Lunar New Year. Cultures beyond the dominant one in your area are separated by doing this, and then the lesson to our students is that they are not the norm; they are different and separate. This is not the goal of multiculturalism, which aims to make multiple cultures the norm. You don’t have to ignore special times like the Lunar New Year, but you should aim to include elements of many cultures throughout your daily curriculum. I love books about global holidays. Every month, we look at all the holidays celebrated worldwide for that month and note how we celebrate some but don’t celebrate others. The book Favorite Day is also an excellent introduction to this practice, and I read it the first day of school to set this idea that all holidays are valid.
- Focus On The Importance of Self-Identity.
When children have a strong sense of individual and cultural identity, they are more open to learning and accepting others. Spend time integrating activities and lessons into your daily lessons about who your students are, celebrating them as individuals, and building their pride. It’s important for children to feel secure in their uniqueness. This can help them better understand and appreciate the uniqueness of others. Embrace and value every one of your students for the unique individuals they are.
- Include Families and Build on The Familiar
Teachers must instill in their students the importance of being true to themselves. You can do this by teaching about family cultures and traditions and incorporating them into lessons, materials, and book choices. Food in the kitchen area should represent many cultures, especially those represented in your classroom; family photos should be on display, and using family traditions in lessons is always a plus. Using the Funds of Knowledge framework is a great way of accomplishing this!
- Find and Celebrate Differences and Similarities
Exposing oneself to and learning to accept differences in the larger community is crucial to complete the puzzle. Diversity doesn’t just include the visible differences but also the subtle ones. Recognizing that the norm for one person is only their norm and not a universal one is essential in developing a greater understanding of others and empathy for those outside of our identity group. This seems like a huge task for early childhood educators, but a little intentionality goes a long way. Talk about similarities and differences from the lens of preschoolers. Talk about what your students call their grandparents, what bedtime is like at their house, and what they ate for dinner. Of course, make sure that any question you ask is appropriate for your group of students. Note these differences and talk about them. Children need to learn we are different in a variety of ways not simply by the most obvious ones like race, gender, or the languages we speak.
- Intentionally Pair Students Up for Tasks
Pair children who don’t pair up naturally together for tasks like classroom chores. I am so glad this idea was mentioned in CCEI’s course about multiculturalism because although I did this naturally in my class, I know I need to be more intentional about it. That is one point the course made over and over that we need to be intentional with making classrooms antibias because when we aren’t intentional, we tend to slip into biased ways unintentionally. We have demanding jobs as teachers, and it’s easy to fall into routines and lose intentionality. When we pair up kids from different cultural backgrounds or even simply different social circles, we teach them to widen their circle and learn about and accept others.
Taking this course from CCEI was a valuable use of my time as a teacher who is always eager to stay on top of best practices. For me, it was PD, but for you, it could be part of your CDA coursework. I love the variety of courses offered and am thrilled that CCEI’s parent company, StraighterLine, now provides online college credit courses in ECE. Now, no matter what pathway in continuing your education, whether professional development, CDA training certification, or getting your degree in ECE, you can do it easily from home!
Learn More About ChildCare Education Institute®
- Center-based care
- Head Start
- Home child care
- Pre-K classrooms
- After-school programs and more
They have more than 200+ English and Spanish training courses that meet licensing, recognition program, and Head Start Requirements. CCEI also offers online national certification training programs for national credentials, including the Director’s Certificate, CDA, and mini certifications. CCEI, a Council for Professional Recognition-approved training provider, is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) and is accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).
- Courses are online and self-paced so you have the control to complete them on your schedule.
- Courses start at only $79 plus a $99 monthly membership fee. And you can start and stop when needed then pick back up right where you left off.
- StraighterLine courses include eTextbooks, 24/7 on-demand tutoring, live student support 7 days a week, and final exam proctoring.
- Typical course completion time is around 45 days.