CULTURAL DIVERSITY IN EARLY YEARS EDUCATION
We value cultural diversity and ensure that we are operating an inclusive service for all of our children, their families and our communities. Our centre operates autonomously and therefore adapts programs and policies to cater to the local community and ever growing changes within the industry.
Cultural Diversity enriches a child’s learning by exposing them to a wide variety of values, beliefs and differences. Accepting and embracing our differences is a great way of bringing the community closer together. Our Educators here at InspiraKids come from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds – this exposure to diversity at a young age helps children to instill a sense of respect for differences and later on assists with the development of meaningful relationships with others.
‘Educators who are culturally competent respect multiple cultural ways of knowing, seeing and living, celebrate the benefits of diversity and have an ability to understand and honour differences’ (EYLF: p.16)
CULTURAL COMPETENCE & THE EARLY YEARS LEARNING FRAMEWORK
What is culture? Culture can be defined as ‘what we create beyond our biology. Not given to us, but made by us’ (Williams, in MacNaughton 2003, p.14).
Using the above definition, culture incorporates the capacity of human diversity and the ways of being, such as; gender, ethnicity, class, religion, ability, age, and sexuality. As being culturally competent educators, we need to think sincerely about how our work can enable each child’s developing identity and their self worth.
Respect for diversity requires us to act ethically and professionally. To act ethically; we need to think about our own values, beliefs and attitudes in relation to diversity and difference without any form of bias. Being able to recognise and remove our bias is part of becoming a culturally competent educator. Culturally competent educators are accepting of all children and their families and have the ability to remove the stereotypical perception of cultures which are less familiar to them.
Being culturally competent doesn’t mean that we should be denying ourselves and others around us the right to our own personal culture and beliefs. It more or less means that we are open to discovering the cultural identities of the children around us, as well as their families and the community in which we live in. By being open to this discovery, it actually allows us to be more knowledgeable and then have the ability to develop better relationships. Our interactions become more meaningful, our view on the world expands, learning experiences become more in depth and each child and their family are supported with a more thorough understanding.
CULTURAL INCLUSION IN A LONG DAY CARE SETTING
Inclusion is the practice of including all children in early learning regardless of their differences.
A centre which practices a culturally inclusive environment, ensures that every child has the opportunity to feel safe, secure and supported.
Inclusion for a long day care setting involves:
- The recognition of diversity in each individual child, their families and all of our communities.
- Decisions which are based on equality and fairness to ensure that children of all abilities have the opportunity to not only participate, but also to succeed.
- Children’s experiences are highly valued and a cherish-able moment.
We are lucky enough to live in extremely diverse communities and as an educator, we have the ability to practice inclusion by accepting, acknowledging and reflecting on our experiences and attitudes towards diversity within said communities. Our community provides amazing opportunities for our children to be able to learn from their educators and for our educators to be able to learn from our children.
At InspiraKids Early Learning we believe that it is important, that all of our children are able to feel a sense of belonging; our support for providing a culturally inclusive centre enables this sense of belonging.
Cultural competence is much more than awareness of cultural differences. It is the ability to understand, respect, communicate with, and effectively interact with, people across cultures (Framework p.16).
HOW OUR EDUCATORS ACKNOWLEDGE & SUPPORT OUR CHILDREN’S FAMILY AND THEIR CULTURE
At InspiraKids our committed educators have an understanding the importance of open communication, and as a team, we endeavour to ensure that each child and their family has an adequate communicable relationship with our wonderful team of educators. We strive to deliver the best form of communication per each individual child and their family. Cultural differences mean that communication may struggle but our educators make every effort to overcome this and try multiple ways in which they can communicate with and support these families.
Our Educators are just as culturally diverse as our children, so this enables them to have the same mutual respect for each other. It gives us the opportunity to grow from the knowledge of our differences and bring us closer together.
Families are encouraged to come in and participate in events, special occasions and cultural awareness days. This type of inclusions helps to promote cultural diversity to not only our educators but to the other children in our setting. This also enables us to discover common ground and to further build our relationships with these families. These Families bring their values, beliefs and backgrounds into our service and enables our educators to become more knowledgeable, which in turn helps them create a more inclusive environment for your child.
Having a safe and secure environment, free of bias and inclusive of cultural awareness and acceptance, provides the perfect space for your child to develop positive relationships and feel comfortable and happy within our environment.
Early childhood educators guided by the Framework will reinforce in their daily practice the principles laid out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (the Convention). The Convention states that all children have the right to an education that lays a foundation for the rest of their lives, maximises their ability, and respects their family, cultural and other identities and languages (Framework, p.5).
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