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Responding to Racial and Ethnic Diversity in Early Childhood Programs

by Francis Wardle
March/April 2011
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Article Link: http://www.childcareexchange.com/article/responding-to-racial-and-ethnic-diversity-in-early-childhood-programs/5019868/

In today’s society professionals working with children want to provide what is best for all children. This requires them to be culturally responsive in their approach to children and their families. Part of being culturally responsive is to be knowledgeable and sensitive to issues of race and ethnicity. However, this is difficult to do, because race and ethnicity are concepts that young children simply do not understand. However, psychologists, multicultural educators, and practitioners know that race and ethnicity are central components of each person’s individual identity; further, that racism in society can have a negative impact on a child’s school success. Given all of these realities, what are professionals who work with diverse populations of young children supposed to do?

Provide a culturally responsive approach to children and their families

Each of us has created in our minds a unique, complex identity based on the interaction between many characteristics (West, 2001). These characteristics include, family, education, languages, abilities and disabilities, religion, gender, community, and race and ethnicity (Wardle, 1996). It is critical that professionals help children develop a secure and accurate identity, and a sense of pride and respect in that identity. Young children are beginning to notice physical characteristics of themselves ...

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