I grew up in a small, rural Iowa town which resembled the “Leave it to Beaver” era. There was little diversity; in fact you could count the numbers of families different than ours on one hand. Looking back, I think about how it must have been difficult for those families because people were too polite to acknowledge similarities and differences.
Sometimes we fail to remember that culture is more than skin color or ethnicity. Culture is commonly defined as a group of people who share common beliefs, values, traditions and rituals.
This time of year, many early childhood professionals often themselves celebrate Christian or other traditional holidays. With the children in their programs, some try to discuss and teach children about all holidays, while others refrain from addressing any holiday so as not to offend anyone.
One developmentally appropriate way to recognize and honor the cultures of families in your program is to ask families to share their traditions! Every family has something unique to their culture to share. It can be a favorite song, book, recipe or decoration. In my personal experiences working in child care settings, children found great joy and pride when they could share their family traditions and culture with their friends and caregivers.
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