At about age 2 years, children begin to notice gender and racial differences. At 2 ½ or so, children learn gender labels (boy/girl) and the name of colors – which they begin to apply to skin color. Around 3 years of age, children notice physical disabilities. At about 4-5 years, they start to display gender appropriate behavior and become fearful of differences. One the same note, children live within many different communities: family, school, church, city, nation, etc. Within each community are different social norms and traditions. Understanding social systems sets the stage for a child’s lifelong dispositions about people, cultures and how he or she belongs in these systems (NCSS, 1988). A Learning Bee Academy’s STEM preschool culture studies explores a variety of cultures, teaching children to appreciate all people from all backgrounds.
WE ARE DIFFERENT, WE ARE THE SAME: TEACHING YOUNG CHILDREN ABOUT DIVERSITY
Diversity activities teach young children to respect and celebrate the differences in all people. Learning about different cultural aspects offers new experiences for children.
It also helps them realize that we’re all humans, despite differences in how we look or dress, or what we eat or celebrate. Games and activities offer a fun way for young children to learn about differences and similarities among people and to introduce the concept of diversity. All types of differences such as race, religion, language, traditions, and gender can be introduced this way.
STEM Preschool Culture Studies
A Learning Bee Academy’s STEM preschool culture studies teaches celebrates the different cultural background of our students. While culture is often boiled down to race or gender, the reality is that each person has their own culture that is affected by their environment on a daily basis. We enjoy learning about the different cultures our students represent and work to cover each of those in our classroom environment.
We take time in our week to discuss different cultures, comparing and contrasting them to what the children know. Our number one focus is a celebration and appreciation for differences and creating an environment where questions are welcomed and answered in a way that instills a confidence in our students’ personal culture as well as a recognition in and an appreciation for the culture of others.
We use a variety of activities to help children respectfully interact and engage with people from diverse cultures:
- Listening to songs in different languages.
- Trying foods from different cultures.
- Having special guests from different cultures.
- Study and discuss maps and the globe.
- Read books about different cultures.
- Celebrate holidays from different cultures.
Throughout our themes our students study diverse backgrounds, and communities. We also take one fieldtrip a month in primary grades to introduce careers to our students; while we focus on STEM-careers, we also explore other non-STEM careers. During these field trips we discuss the cultural backgrounds of those we see and hear from.
As the world continues to be more globalized, knowledge regarding cultural differences in children’s thinking, memory and how they interact with adults has important practical implications in many STEM careers. A child who participates in STEM preschool culture studies teaches culturally responsive curriculum will better develop a sense of identity as an individual as well as proudly identify with their particular culture group. A Learning Bee Academy recognizes our integral role in cultural diversity development and is focused on accepting, enriching, and encouraging cultural diversity.