December 2023 Newsletter – Practices that Support Healthy Development: Strengthening Cultural Responsiveness

Strengthening Cultural Responsiveness

According to the NAEYC, cultural responsiveness includes:

“…using the experiences and perspectives of children and their families as a tool to support them more effectively (Gay 2002). As this approach is child and family centered, it sets the stage for critical relationship building (Ford & Kea 2009).”

The work that it takes to strengthen cultural responsiveness is vital to creating equitable and safe learning environments for children, but it is also challenging work. In some ways, it is a deeply personal and reflective endeavor. Conversely, it is work that is best guided by a professional with experience in this area who can guide individuals and groups to explore values and deeply held beliefs.

For example, consider the work of uncovering biases. Bias is the tendency we have to prefer or avoid certain ideas, items, individuals, or groups. We form biases based on our upbringing, life experiences, and, unfortunately, stereotypes that exist. Bias can be explicit, meaning that we are aware of our preferences, attitudes, and feelings. Bias can also be implicit, meaning that we are not aware that we hold, and operate according to, these beliefs.

A person trained in cultural competence and culturally responsive teaching practices will be able to guide individuals and teams through the challenging reflections and conversations about those implicit biases of which we are not even aware! We strongly encourage you to seek professional development opportunities that strengthen your skills in this area throughout 2024.

Steps that ECE professionals can put in place immediately include:

  • Actively demonstrate value for the contributions of each child regardless of their race, religion, home language, gender, family make-up, abilities, etc.
  • Reflect aspects of our diverse communities in a positive light, showing the excellence of the children, families, and community members outside of the program.
  • Discuss similarities and differences positively.
  • Develop strong partnerships with families and community resources that support families.
  • Incorporate children’s home language and culture in the environment and interactions.

Learn more here.

For the main article Practices that Support Healthy Development, CLICK HERE

For the article Serve and Return, CLICK HERE

For the article Build Resilience, CLICK HERE

For the article Build Strong Relationships with Families, CLICK HERE