Easy Ways To Promote Diversity in the Classroom

These are all easy things you can do in the classroom to promote and support diversity.

I recently wrote an article where I included 10 ways to promote diversity in the classroom and I’ve been getting a lot of emails for more ideas.

Promoting diversity and multiculturalism in the classroom is good for everyone.  Here are some more ideas for achieving this in the classroom.

Focus on understanding and communicating, not error correction” (Díaz-Rico & Weed, 2006). Value what your students say and not how they speak.

Emphasize geography in your classroom to broaden your students’ perspectives. Teach geography. Decorate your room with maps and globes and get your students excited about their world. Daily exercises should include pinpointing the country, state, and town where the class is located. 

Play music from other cultures. Music provides students with a fun way to learn new languages. While children are busy doing crafts, eating snacks or napping, play music with diverse cultural origins. Ask parents to lend you recordings of music that their family enjoys or if they have any instruments children could listen to or try. Talk with the children about how different music sounds, about rhythm and instruments and if it’s loud, soft, fast, or slow. Listen to the different instruments.

Celebrate global holidays, not just those celebrated in your country or community. Children love parties, so give them an excuse to celebrate by introducing a wide variety of world holidays. Play games, eat food and sing songs typical of the holiday. Make sure you learn about the holidays and what their true significance is first (stay away from holidays like 5 de Mayo, most Hispanics do not celebrate it and it’s significance is often misinterpreted). You can have an activity during the holidays where you explore how people celebrate Christmas around the world.

Promote and let children in the classroom speak in their home language to other children. Slavin (2005), suggested that grouping children who speak the same native language together so that they may use their native language to make a collective sense of English is more beneficial than forcing them to speak English only.

Cook a variety of foods from all over the world. Cooking ethnic cuisine is one way to get kids excited about new cultures. During snack time, why not experiment with culturally diverse foods? Children love to cook, and this is a hands-on way for them to appreciate a new culture’s cuisine.

Explore different family structures. During a “family” theme week, have the children bring pictures of their families and display images of all the children and families in the classroom. Students will see that families come in all sorts: single moms, single dads, same-sex couples, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and foster and adoptive parents as well as coming from different cultures, ethnicities and geographical locations.

Experience different disabilities. A wheelchair ride can help children understand disabilities. Blindfold children and have them attempt to conduct a simple activity. Bring in a child-sized wheelchair and have them experience first-hand what it is like to not have use of their legs. Teach basic signs to orient them to the deaf experience.

Photo by: Metropolitan School Wikicommons. 

Decorate your room with diversity in mind. Add toys and materials that reflect the cultures of the children and families in your group. Then expand to include materials that mirror the diversity in the world. Dolls and action figures should represent different races. Letters of the alphabet should have a corresponding American Sign Language version.

Give parents the tools to read to children in their native languages: Translate a book in each child’s native language and send it home so that they can read it and discuss it with family in their home language. Then read the same book at school and discuss it. According to research, this will increase the rate of vocabulary acquisition. Additionally, the home-school partnership will be strengthened.

Remove materials and visuals that promote stereotypes.

Ask children to talk with their families about sayings or traditions that are common in their culture. Choose one broad topic, such as love, birthdays, holidays, or time. Chart the responses to see how different cultures express similar ideas. “Children might also be fascinated to compare the different names they use for their grandparents” (Williams, 1989). Listen and watch for children’s comments that can lead to discoveries about each other.

Invite parents and other family members to come in and read a story in their home language to the whole classroom.  Have children share family stories written by the children and parents about themselves as families. Have parents volunteer to come to school and tell their stories even if they are in another language. Adults can tell stories about their culture and its development, and about struggles to achieve respect in their community. Such stories should be related to children’s interest, developmental level, and cultural context.

Organize a special day for each child in the classroom, or a special week.  On their week each child can talk about themselves, their family and some element of their culture.

Do you have any suggestions for things you can do in the classroom that will promote and support diversity?

Easy Ways To Promote Diversity in the Classroom

For more ideas be sure to check my article: 10 Great Ideas to Promote Diversity in the Classroom

You can also read: Having a Multicultural Classroom is Good for Everyone

Paula Bendfeldt-Diaz

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