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Cultural Diversity in Early Childhood Education: What It Is

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We live in a globalized world and this is nothing new. However, investing in globalized education involves more than having access to learning a new language and getting to know the countries’ cultural aspects. This is also closely linked to curriculum’s formation that allows living with different cultures, creating perceptions that denote the world’s reality, and respecting the other and their traditions in a simultaneous exchange. 

What is cultural diversity in early childhood education?

Culture is everything that brings us back to belonging to a determined group, and it is evident when we are talking about different countries and even regions of our own country. 

Cultural diversity goes back not only to different linguistic aspects but covers factors related to artistic manifestations, religion, food, music, clothing, and other aspects of the most varied possible and imaginable. 

In addition, the cultural formation of a people includes material and immaterial aspects that can be easily perceived, and the child must have access to this variety of cultures from their daily experiences. 

For children, the sooner they have contact with cultural diversity, the more they will develop the capacity for solidarity, empathy, knowledge, and respect for everything that diverges from their practices. 

What are the goals and importance of cultural diversity in children’s education? 

Allow children to have the opportunity to get to know themselves and get to know the most different aspects of the people they live with. This is one of the great goals of working on cultural diversity in the school environment. 

In this way, working on cultural differences with children provides a good relationship and respect for each other’s differences, valuing cultural aspects of other peoples, as well as presenting their own culture as an opportunity to interact respectfully.

Globalization has brought this interaction of peoples not only in the economic aspect but in the knowledge of cultural varieties. In the children’s coexistence, this process involves meeting colleagues who come from other countries, who speak other languages, and wear clothes that express a different cultural expression from their own. 

To develop relationships in the school’s cultural events that involve different cultures because it can give children the opportunity to get to know what the world offers outside the customs of their own country.  

It is important to know cultural diversity from an early age and to practice respect, considering the globalized world based on many virtual contacts, where children are inserted from their first social experiences. This brings the need to improve respect and tolerance so that problems such as bullying are increasingly absent in the society where our children are growing up and will be leaders in the future.

Knowing different cultures, including the national culture itself, which involves various cultural manifestations, is one of the relevant ways to develop in children characteristics that are linked to the skills of empathy and respect for others. It increases social awareness and responsibility in relationships with people around them back, preventing the spread of prejudice and allowing a healthy cultural exchange for the little ones. 

How to work cultural diversity with children

Working on cultural diversity with children is an adventure that involves awakening curiosity. Thus, it is possible to present to them aspects of the different cultures of our country, as well as to provide knowledge of relevant cultural aspects of other peoples within the school environment.

The development of multicultural fairs is a deeply enriching way of working on cultural diversity with children and families. Thus, it is possible to present religious, artistic, culinary, fashion, and even technological aspects of other peoples, to enrich relationships and global understanding of the world. 

The methodological aspects used in early childhood education can enrich children’s daily lives from the knowledge of various practices that involve cultural diversity, dancing, or a cooking recipe; these are different ways of getting to know characteristics of another culture. 

When working on cultural diversity with children, it is essential to establish the importance of building relationships based on respect. In no way should the idea of segregation be presented.

In this way, children learn by example to establish a healthy environment, both at home and school; this generates the development of attitudes of tolerance for children, increasing their sense of ethics and respect in their social practices.   

Ten books on cultural diversity to work with children

Check out now a list of 10 books that work on cultural diversity with children in a simple, fun, and contagious way, presenting everyday reality and knowledge of different cultural aspects. 

  1. Cada família é de um jeito  [Every family is unique] (Aline Abreu)

The book addresses different family aspects, demonstrating to children that there are several types of families in today’s society. Respect is the most important form of relationship between people. 

In addition to approaching the subject of different families, the book is illustrated with striking figures that allow children’s imagination to flow creatively, to identify colors and objects, and to find in the book the very model of the family in which she is inserted. 

  1. The Family book (Todd Parr) 

Considering the aspects of family diversity, The Family Book has the same aspect as the previous book in demonstrating the diversity of families to children in a fun and colorful way through eye-catching illustrations. 

  1. Todos fazemos tudo [We all do everything ](Madalena Matoso)

The book contains figures that interact with each other from page to page. The leaves are cut in half and the child handles them and the scenes make sense. There are several people at different stages of life, doing different things, such as playing the guitar, shopping, speaking in public, and walking with the elderly, among other everyday activities demonstrated through the illustrations in the book. 

  1. Menina bonita do laço de fita [Ribbon bow pretty girl] (Ana Maria Machado)

The book presents the story of a girl who has a rabbit as a friend, who wants to know what the secret is for her to have a black skin color. The story tells the rabbit’s adventures trying to have the same skin color as the girl. She also tells the rabbit several stories so that he can have black fur. It is a classic book on cultural diversity that is worth inserting into the children’s collection. 

  1. Amoras [Blackberries] (Emicida)

It is a book demonstrating the beauty contained in blackness; from the illustration of blackberries, an adult demonstrates to the child comparisons to exalt the beauty in black features. 

  1. Obax (André Neves) 

The book is composed of elements of African culture, containing the story of a child named Obax who lives in a savannah. Obax imagines different situations that permeate everyday reality and stimulate children’s creativity, demonstrating cultural aspects of another country. 

The story’s illustrations show real scenes of African daily life, as well as the clothes, and a variety of cultural expressions that involve different countries on the continent. 

  1. Tudo bem ser diferente [It’s Okay to Be Different] (Todd Parr)

It’s Okay to be different is another book by Todd Parr that talks about people’s differences in a fun way. It demonstrates aspects of everyday life that children experience and sometimes they think it is abnormal, such as parental separation or physical disabilities, among other characteristics.

  1. Elmer, o elefante xadrez [Elmer, the chess elephant] (David McKee) 

The book tells the story of an elephant that stood out from the rest by being colorful. However, Elmer was a fun elephant who kept all of his elephant friends very excited and happy. However, he wondered why he was different from the others but soon realized that each one is unique and special in the way they are.

The story of the colorful elephant can awaken children’s ability to understand their peculiarities, accept their physical and emotional characteristics, and understand that all people are different in some aspects or all of them!

  1. Um outro país para Azzi [Another Country for Azzi] (Sarah Garland)

This is a story for slightly older children, which depicts war events in the Middle East, where a family leaves everything behind to seek a new life in another country with a different culture from their own. 

The little girl named Azzi misses her grandmother and faces many challenges in this new country due to cultural and linguistic issues.

The story can demonstrate to children the need to welcome people and feel welcomed.

  1. Rodrigo enxerga tudo [Rodrigo sees everything] (Markiano Charan Filho) 

The book tells a beautiful story of social inclusion practiced by children in the face of visual impairment. 

In it, children learn that the visually impaired can see the world in different ways, despite the lack of eye vision.

It is worth venturing out and getting excited about the stories and taking children to dive into the universe of cultural diversity playfully, respecting their development process and interest in reading, as well as the ability to imagine situations using creative ways to describe life. 

Cultural diversity must be learned from childhood, and the school is an important space for the introduction of various subjects that are part of the social composition in which we live, guaranteeing for children an environment of integration between the diversity of peoples from an education globalized. 

From this perspective of presenting cultural diversity, and understanding different languages, establishing experiences with people of different nationalities, St. Nicholas School is the best private children’s school in São Paulo. It has an international teaching proposal that offers an environment of cultural diversity, with an appropriate infrastructure for children’s development of all age groups, promoting multicultural interaction through the formation of an international curriculum.

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    St. Nicholas School is a school with an international education with the aim of developing responsible, confident and caring citizens. Teaching students to ask the right questions, to get to the right places for them. You can find St. Nicholas School in Pinheiros and Alphaville.


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