Multiculturalism in Early Childhood Education

Topics: Culture, Multiculturalism, Education Pages: 14 (3810 words) Published: June 3, 2014
Introduction
In recent times, early childhood education is becoming more diverse. Early childhood providers are required to attempt many challenging tasks. One of the most difficult of these is providing our children with diverse, multicultural experiences. (Ogletree & Larke, 2010) Since the beginning of times, young children have been raised by their families, extended families, clans and communities. Even today, most childcare homes and many early childhood programs tend to be fairly consistent and quite similar to the child's home background. Parents tend to choose childcare and early childhood programs based on whether the programs match their own views of education and discipline. (Tarman & Tarman, 2011) Programs nowadays are expected to provide the children with experiences outside of their groups, offering opportunities to teach them to be tolerant, respectful and accepting of differences. (Derman-Sparks, 1989) Bennet (1995) described multicultural education "as an approach to teaching and learning that is based upon democratic beliefs and seeks to foster cultural pluralism within culturally diverse societies and an interdependent world." In Singapore, where we have a culturally diverse population, it is essential to be sensitive towards each other's cultural practices, beliefs and views. Thus, the reason to include multicultural education into the early childhood education system deems as important. The logical reason being that brain research has proved that the "prime time" for emotional and social development in children is from birth to twelve years of age. (Abdullah, 2009) Issues in Including Multicultural Education in Early Childhood Education There are several issues that do not allow multicultural education to permeate the early childhood programs in Singapore. Curriculum

The curriculum of a center shows the process in which learning outcomes will be achieved. Therefore, including the goals and objectives of multicultural education into the center’s curriculum is essential. It has to be infused throughout the curriculum. Good early childhood pedagogy reflects and empowers the diverse cultural backgrounds of the children and families with whom they work. (Robinson & Jones, 2006) Including children’s identity into the daily programming and planning of the early childhood curriculum is considered necessary for developing their self-esteem as well as cultivating their appreciation for diversity that exists more widely in our society. (Abdullah, 2009)

In Singapore, multicultural education is not a mainstream issue. With Singaporeans being more aware of issues and events through globalization and internet, it is truly essential that multicultural education is included in schools.

Quah (as cited in Berthelsen & Karuppiah, 2011) has discussed the expanded ethnic and religious awareness strain among Singapore in recent years. Recent cases such as the wearing of the Muslim head-dress in government schools drummed up a buzz around the diverse ethnic groups in Singapore and resuscitated ethnic strains. These cases show that government policies need to be re-evaluated painstakingly so as to safeguard cultural harmony and maintain respect for cultural diversity. Thus, gaining support from the Government to deal with this issue indepth is significant. Language Development

Usually the educational system in most countries applies the national language as the medium of instruction. However, multiculturalism and the distinguishment of the important role of language in studying makes it compulsory for differing qualities of dialect, abilities and correspondence styles to be recognized, esteemed and utilized within all early childhood services. The procurement for children to study the majority language whilst maintaining their first language ought to be underpinned and energized. This obviously is to propose bilingualism or in any event underpin for the home dialect as a strategy even at the unanticipated youth level....

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