Teaching with a Multicultural Perspective.
Teaching with a multicultural perspective encourages appreciation and understanding of other cultures as well as one's own. Teaching with this perspective promotes the child's sense of the uniqueness of his or her own culture as a positive characteristic and enables the child to accept the uniqueness of the cultures of others.
Children's attitudes toward their race and ethnic group and other cultural groups begin to form early in the preschool years. Infants can recognize differences in those around them, and young children can easily absorb negative stereotypes. Children are easily influenced by the culture, opinions, and attitudes of their caregivers. Caregivers' perceptions of ethnic and racial groups can affect the child's attitudes toward those minority groups. Early childhood educators can influence the development of positive attitudes in young children by learning about and promoting the various cultures represented among the children they teach.
Young children can develop stereotypic viewpoints of cultures different from their own when similarities among all individuals are not emphasized. Teachers can help eliminate stereotypes by presenting material and activities that enable children to learn the similarities of all individuals. Circle time is particularly helpful in this respect, as it provides children with a feeling of group identity and introduces them to the variety of cultures represented in the class (Dixon and Fraser, 1986).
A multicultural program should not focus on other cultures to the exclusion of the cultures represented in the class. Children from different cultures often have to make major behavioral adjustments to meet the expectations of the school. Teachers should take whatever measures are necessary to see that children do not interpret these adjustments as evidence of cultural stereotypes.
Early childhood teachers and parents of young children should become aware of the myths associated with multicultural education...