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Developing multicultural understanding

Next Friday we will have a wonderful time together as a community celebrating the rich cultural diversity we have in our school.

Greening the Blue

I am always deeply moved as I watch the parade of flags, appreciate the beauty of the dances, see the artistry in traditional clothing, and enjoy the wide range of tastes and smells that our wonderful families prepare.

There is so much to appreciate in each other’s cultural background, and it is always wonderful for us to see so many parents, grandparents, friends and students enjoying the day together.

With all that has been happening in school in preparation for next week’s Cultural Day, along with Wednesday’s UN Day celebrations, I have been reminded of one of the courses I did at university.

The course was focused on developing multicultural understanding and for my final presentation I decided to focus on the vital role that parents play in this process.

Below, I have included an excerpt from one researcher that I came across in my studies. She discusses the role that parents play and the impact that they have on their child’s multicultural understanding.

I hope that before our cultural celebration and all the feasting and fun that it involves, you will be inspired and challenged to reflect on how best to help your child prepare for the diverse world in which we live.

By the time a child is three they are aware of their racial identity and attributes of different cultural groups Swick, Boutte & van Scoy (I995)

Multicultural Literacy Starts at Home by Jyotsna Pattnaik

Without the participation of parents, the task of preparing all children for a multicultural world and equipping them with the requisite attitudes, knowledge, skills, and commitment to seek justice for all members in a diverse society will remain incomplete. The importance of involving parents in multicultural education can be justified on several counts.

  • First, parents have been rightly recognized as their children’s first teachers and role models. Experts suggest that parents’ attitudes and practices toward diversity influence and shape children’s attitudes toward people who are different from themselves (e.g., Derman-Sparks, Gutierrez, & Phillips, 1989). Therefore, it is important to explore, change, and extend parents’ attitudes and knowledge about multicultural education.

  • Second, theory and research suggest that parents’ involvement in education contributes to children’s academic knowledge and skill development (Fan & Chen, 1999) as well as to their behavioral and emotional development (Cai, Moyer & Wang, 1997).

  • Third, the continuity of learning between home and school is critical to children’s learning (Springate & Stegelin, 1999).

  • Fourth, there is a growing recognition that schools cannot shoulder the responsibility of educating children single-handedly. To serve children and the society best, schools need support from other agencies, including the family.

Children look to parents for examples of how to relate to people who are different from themselves Swick, Boutte & van Scoy (I995)