Culturally Responsive Teaching in Early Childhood Education
There is a wide variety of approaches that educators can take when working with students from diverse backgrounds, and it can be challenging to select the strategy that is best suited to your needs. Culturally responsive teaching (CRT) is an approach that I’ve found myself using frequently, whether in early childhood education or in informal education. CRT validates and affirms the cultures of the students and incorporates their cultures in multiple aspects of learning and the environment in meaningful ways. This strategy also encourages educators to have high expectations for the children and their capacity to learn the material that is being taught to them.
Researchers and teachers have shown that this strategy is effective in fostering learning in young children. [Citation needed] Evidence of students being more engaged, motivated, and connected to the learning process has come to my attention from a variety of sources, including academics, peers, and my own practise of integrating CRT.
4 TIPS FOR USING CRT IN YOUR WORK
1. CRT can be applied to a variety of topics, including the following: CRT can be used to supplement a wide range of topics. In order to improve children’s literacy, in addition to providing content that introduces them to new subject matter, you can choose books and software that are bilingual and that reflect the children’s backgrounds, environments, home languages, and daily routines. You can also choose books and software that are bilingual. Because of this, some children will be able to make connections to the real world, while others will be able to learn about different perspectives and experiences.
When reading bilingual books, ask students to help you pronounce words. This shows that you value the students’ native language, consider them to be sources of valuable information, are curious about their languages, and care about the languages they speak. You are broadening the students’ knowledge of English while also providing them with exposure to multiple languages in the context of meaningful situations.
Before introducing students to other texts that may be more traditionally used in the curriculum, teachers can use texts that are culturally responsive to initially engage students in a variety of subject areas. You could decide to compare and contrast the characters and settings in two different books about rain or trees. One of the books could be about rain, and the other could be about trees. This would help the children expand their understanding of particular subject matter areas while also building on the experience they have already gained.
During a discussion of a book, you can encourage participants to engage in more in-depth thought about the subject matter by asking the kinds of questions that you would normally ask, such as “How would you feel if…,” “Can you say more about…,” and “Why do you think this happened?” You can help to foster critical conversations with learners about gender roles and expression, ethnic differences, and various forms of bias that occur in society by asking them these questions and using materials that are culturally responsive.
2. Exercise your creative side: using CRT will allow you to find new ways to approach both teaching and learning. For instance, if you decide to play music during the transitions, you could include a variety of genres that the children already listen to, or you could choose genres that reflect their cultural community and the contemporary experiences they have had.
When instructing children in mathematical concepts, it can be helpful to use physical or digital representations of manipulatives that are commonplace objects that the students are already familiar with or that are items that the students particularly enjoy, such as toys, rocks, shells, and so on. Children’s interest and curiosity can be sparked, particularly in children who are initially resistant to a topic, by using objects that are already familiar to them.
Work together with families to ensure that your programme takes into account the children’s native language. You can enlist the assistance of the children’s families in a number of ways, including the creation of object labels in the children’s native language, the selection of music to be used in the classroom or online classes, and the modelling of correct word pronunciation.
3. Establish meaningful connections with students and their families Getting to know students, as well as their families and communities, enables you to respond in a manner that more accurately reflects the students you teach. CRT can help you create a productive learning environment wherever you are, whether in person or online.
At the beginning of the school year, you should give each family a survey in which you ask questions about their native language, their access to and use of technology, and the activities that they enjoy doing together. Think about providing this survey in multiple languages and making sure it’s accessible to the tools that families use, whether that’s a smartphone, a laptop, paper, or something else.
Calling one another is another way to stay in touch, but doing so may be difficult if you and the family member in question do not share a language in which you are both fluent and at ease communicating.
You should try to pick up some of the family’s native tongue so that you can communicate with them. They will probably value this gesture because it demonstrates that you are making an effort to connect with them and that you recognise the significance of their expertise and language. In the event that it is feasible to do so, please provide translations of any instructions, projects, or other types of take-home assignments.
You can build relationships with families by inviting them to participate in day-to-day activities and attend in-person and virtual field trips with their children. You could also choose to hold events for your family at your child’s school, online, or in local community centres.
4. Transform yourself into a learner: It is essential to keep in mind that the activities that take place in the classroom are a component of larger structural and social issues, and that different communities and cultures can be found within different types of learning environments. It is therefore beneficial to regularly review books, podcasts, articles, and research that describe the ways in which these issues and cultural nuances show up in communities, the lives of families, and educational settings. Doing so can assist you in seeing topics from a variety of viewpoints and provide you with ideas regarding how you can be more culturally responsive in your practise.
Additionally, cultivating relationships with peers who have different backgrounds, identities, and perspectives can provide you with insight into new ways of thinking. These relationships can be beneficial to you in a number of ways. For instance, you could start a book or podcast club where members share their observations and thoughts, or you could hold an online discussion about a particular article. This peer network is a space in which you can support one another, share what you experience in your practise, and have conversations about how different cultures view various subject areas and materials. It is also a place where people can be willing to constructively criticise and challenge one another’s practises and ideas while doing so in a manner that is respectful.
Critical teaching, in the words of Professor Gloria Swindler Boutte, “requires teachers to admit that they do not know everything.” Simply by paying attention to what our students have to say, we can pick up new information. We have a responsibility to record, honour, and educate ourselves about people from all over the world, with a particular emphasis on those who are strikingly dissimilar to us. As educators, we have a tendency to become mired in our own preconceptions and methods of instruction. The CRT provides us with the opportunity to design teaching and learning environments that involve not only ourselves but also the students, their families, and the wider community.
Being sensitive to students’ cultural backgrounds has enabled me to maintain my flexibility and adaptability, as well as to design educational opportunities that are meaningful to the participants. Teaching that is culturally responsive serves to remind us that everyone is valuable and that they all bring something unique to the table. Always keep an eye out for the students’, their families’, and their communities’ greatest assets and strengths.