Learning to respect and celebrate all of the unique differences we have between each other is an important part of children’s development. If a young child doesn’t learn about cultural diversity, then he or she may have a problem accepting other people’s differences as a child and as an adult. Even though teaching diversity in the classroom is often met with resistance, the importance of teaching cultural diversity in the classroom cannot be overlooked. Here are a few tips from Many Languages, One Classroom and The Welcoming Classroom on how to teach cultural diversity in the classroom:

Explore Different Cultures with Students

Keeping things authentic and ensuring all of your students’ cultural backgrounds are represented in the classroom are two of the most vital things to remember when teaching diversity. Be sure to examine these four factors when exploring different cultures with students:

  • Communication – Should you make direct eye contact with people in this culture? What’s the right amount of space to give people when speaking to them? What gestures are appropriate?
  • Traditions – How do the people in this culture celebrate birthdays and weddings?
  • Holidays – What are important holidays in this culture? How do people celebrate them?
  • Everyday Life – What clothing and accessories do people commonly wear in this culture? What time does the school day/workday start and end? What are some favorite foods in this culture?

Provide Cultural Authenticity in Everyday Play

Authentic props and materials are essential to teaching cultural diversity in the classroom. Here are a few ways you can provide cultural authenticity in everyday play: 

  • Collect authentic clothing and accessories from different countries and cultures.
  • Provide empty food containers from different ethnic food stores in the area.
  • Look for utensils and appliances (chopsticks, tortilla maker, etc.) that are used in other cultures.

For more information about cultural diversity in the classroom, read our “Creating Inclusive Lesson Plans” and “Embracing Diversity in the Classroom” articles. You’ll also find a wealth of materials that encourage children to appreciate and respect differences in others in our Dramatic Play section.