Culture attitudes affect the way we behave, think and interact with other people. It is not just about where our ancestors come from; culture also shows in our dress sense, what we eat, how we bring up children and interact with family, discipline and routines, the music and entertainment we choose, our festivals and our style of communicating with each other. As the world around us becomes more complex and more diverse, the culture attitudes of children have to be shaped. They need to be equipped with skills to interact with people from different cultural identities and backgrounds.
Create a Culture Sensitive Child Care Center
To make a child care center more culture sensitive takes time and patience, as well as an open mind. Culture
equality is an attitude to be nurtured and instilled in the staff members as well as in the children and parents and can be difficult at times. A few tips to make it easier:
Culture Attitudes: Dealing with Parents
- Identify problem areas: Common areas of difference in culture attitudes when it comes to children are discipline, breast or bottle feeding, table etiquette and good manners, sleep habits and nap times, potty training, and play time and games. These are all areas that you should discuss with parents.
- Schedule time to meet parents and get to know them: Assuming knowledge about a background based on the appearance of the parents does not allow you to provide a culture sensitive approach. Spend time talking to parents and understanding their concerns and requirements from you. Building a trusting relationship with parents before running into problems helps when a disagreement arises.
- Resolve problems amicably: When a situation arises due to differences in culture attitudes, it is important to discuss it with parents in a comfortable atmosphere. Many child care professionals make short visits to the homes of the children they look after, in order to build a more personal relationship with parents.
Culture Equality at the Center
- Avoid stereotyping: Examine yourself carefully for any evidence of judgmental culture attitudes or stereotyping, either of children or their parents. Do you assume that a child may have a troubled family background, low intelligence, slower development, or a different set of values based on his or her religion or ethnic background? Talking to the child and to the parents will help you gain a realistic and far more useful understanding of the individual qualities.
- Educate staff: Encourage meetings and discussions between staff members to develop a spirit of culture equality amongst other child carers.
Culture Sensitive Child Care
- Make culture sensitive changes at the center: Children who come to the center should feel as if they belong. Display photographs of the child with his or her family, put up drawings that the children make, or allow children to help clean up or perform small tasks so they develop a sense of responsibility towards the center. Ensure that books, toys and pictures around the center are culture sensitive and encourage tolerance.
- Educate the children: Spend time talking to children about culture equality and how they feel about diversity. Reading aloud from positive books, celebrating different festivals together, comparing cultures through plays or songs help cultivating a multicultural spirit. It is important to set an example yourself. Children pick up cues from adults very quickly and will imitate any discriminatory behavior once they see it.
While child carers and parents share the responsibility of ensuring that children grow up to be culture sensitive and accepting of multiple cultures and ethnic identities, child carers need to pay special attention to this area for different reasons. When there is a difference or insensitivity between a child’s experiences in a child care center and at home, it affects the child, parents and professional. Differences in culture attitudes can make a child feel insecure, confused, frustrated and torn between the two. Without culture sensitive carers, parents may feel misunderstood, defensive, or that their background and heritage is being threatened or disrespected. Child carers will find that there is no support from parents, that the child is absent often or that the parents withdraw the child from the center to find more culture sensitive services.
- Responsive Teaching for Children with Diverse Language, Culture and Abilities – National Child Care Information and Technical Assistance Center
- Cultural Sensitivity when Caring for Infants and Toddlers – Wisconsin Child Care Improvement Project
- Accepting the Challenge of Diversity – Making Child Care Centers Culturally Comfortable Places. University of Connecticut
- Diversity in the Classroom – Public Broadcasting Service