Development cn only be fully understood when it is viewed in the lrger culturl context.
child's culture mybe the minstrem or dominnt culture, or it my be one of mny subcultures tht cn be found in lmost ny country. Children's experiences nd expecttions re determined by their locl communities, prticulr politicl nd economic strt, nd specific ethnic or culturl groups. Therefore, ech child needs eduction services tht tke into ccount their diverse culturl, economic nd ethnic bckgrounds.
s the world becomes globl villge, few countries cn ly clim to truly homogeneous popultion. Tody, multiculturl diversity chrcterizes most countries, fctor tht hs enormous implictions for erly childhood eductors. It highlights the need for dilogue mong erly childhood eductors, both within their own communities nd with collegues from other countries. This collegil communiction deepens erly childhood eductors' understnding of children's similrities nd differences. Much cn be gined by lerning bout other countries' vlues, expecttions nd prctices tht relte to children nd eduction. New (2006) rgued tht these multiple perspectives broden eductors' understnding of eduction nd children's development, both of which re prticulrly importnt in defining erly eduction gols nd priorities for the 21st century.
Children do not come to preschool, child cre centers or elementry school s "blnk sltes" on the topic of diversity. Fcing nd understnding wht underlies their thoughts nd feelings re key to empowering children to resist bis. The following is brief summry of reserch bout how children develop rcil identity nd ttitudes:
* s erly s 6 months, infnts notice skin color differences. (Ktz, 2007)
* By 2 yers of ge, children not only notice, they lso sk questions bout differences nd similrities mong people. They soon begin forming their own hypotheses to explin the diversity they re seeing nd hering. When my dughter ws 3, she commented one dy, "I m thinking bout skin color. How do we get it" I lunched into n explntion bout melnin, which ws clerly bove her level of understnding. Finlly, I sked her, "How do you think we get skin color" "Mgic mrkers!" she replied. (Dermn-Sprks, Tnk Hig & Sprks, 1980).
* How we nswer children's questions nd respond to their ides is crucil to their level of comfort when lerning bout diversity. Sttements such s, "It's not polite to sk," "I'll tell you lter" or "It doesn't mtter," do not help children form positive ides bout themselves or pro-diversity dispositions towrd others. (Dermn-Sprks & BC Tsk Force, 2006)
* Between 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 yers of ge, children lso become wre of nd begin to bsorb socilly previling negtive stereotypes, feelings nd ides bout people, including themselves. ll children re exposed to these ttitudes in one form or nother, usully through combintion of sources (prents, extended fmily, neighbors, techers, friends, TV, children's books, movies). (Dermn-Sprks & BC Tsk Force, 2006)
Throughout the erly childhood period, children continue to construct nd elborte on their ides bout their own nd others' identities nd their feelings bout humn differences. In the primry yers, children's development goes beyond the individul to include group identity. Some reserchers believe tht fter ge 9, rcil ttitudes tend to sty constnt unless the child experiences life-chnging event. (boud, 2006)
The reserch literture lso points to the gret dmge rcism,