Cultivating Cultural Competence In Children

Culturally diverse childrenIf civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships-the ability of all people, of all kinds, to live together, in the same world at peace. –Franklin D. Roosevelt

The first step to cultivate human relationships starts in the home. Children tend to exhibit the behaviors and attitudes that they observe. If parents want children to value diversity, it’s imperative that parents model respect for all people. In addition, parents must make a conscious effort to provide their children with the skills and tools necessary to grow up to become culturally competent adults.

Research Tells Us…

  • Parents are the primary influence on children’s attitudes toward other cultural groups.
  • Between ages 2 and 5, children become aware of gender, race, ethnicity, and disabilities. They are aware of both the positive and negative bias.
  • Biases based on gender, race, disability, or social class creates obstacles and a false sense of superiority for children.
  • Racism attacks the self-esteem of children of color.

Make Diversity Part Of Your Daily Life

  • Create an environment that reflects diversity. Include toys, literature, artwork, etc. that represents all groups of people.
  • Interact with others that are different. Provide opportunities for your child at school,Different hands together daycare, play-dates, or try attending cultural events together.
  • Talk about diversity. Listen to and answer your child’s questions about what they are experiencing in the world. Talking about their experiences helps them learn from different perspectives.
  • As your child gets older teach him/her how to challenge stereotypes appropriately and what to do when witnessing a bias.
  • Most importantly, parents must model acceptance and open-mindedness about diversity.
  • Make certain that the school your child attends as well as community and religious organizations you belong to promote respect for diversity.

Family Activities

  • Research your own family’s heritage. This will help build a sense of pride and understanding of your cultural heritage in your child.
  • Discuss issues you may hear. Children are going to hear things about diversity and other issues in the media or in the classroom. This brings up a great opportunity to talk to your child about how to respond in an appropriate manner.
  • Learn a second language. Children can start learning another language with simple words like numbers, colors, and naming objects around your home. Our blog post Culturally Responsive Teaching And Environments has great tips on how to introduce other languages in the classroom which can also be used in the home!
  • Explore foods. The cuisine of other cultures introduces children to something different. Try preparing ethnic recipes together at home or dine at an ethnic restaurant.
  • Attend cultural events. Museums, concerts, plays, dances, and attending festivals or celebrations of other cultures are great ways to introduce children to diversity. If you’re a bit apprehensive about attending a cultural celebration/festival for the first time, you might want invite a friend from that community to accompany you and your family to the event.

What are your tips for encouraging cultural competency within your children at home or in the classroom? Leave us a comment!

Jackie Guzman, Extension Educator | The Learning Child

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Field Trip Fun

shutterstock_193504667.jpgPlanning an outing with your preschoolers can be an enriching experience and an opportunity for the young child to explore and learn about their world. When considering a field trip for children in child care settings, there are a few key things to keep in mind including safety, the developmental level and special needs of the child/children, and how you will prepare the child for the event.

Planning

The location of the outing should be carefully planned out ahead of time. Long distance trips in a vehicle that take children away from their daily routine and familiar surroundings for the entire day may not be appropriate for small children who can become easily overwhelmed by change. Trips to the pool might sound fun, however it may be difficult to monitor and ensure safety, depending on the size of your group. When choosing a location, try to make the event inclusive of all the children in your care, and plan for how you will include special needs children as well.

Intentional planning of field trips should also be linked to the curriculum that is centered around the children’s interests and the early learning guidelines that are established, such as those established by the Nebraska Department of Education.

Some of the child driven interests may include nature, insects, farm animals and food. Consider what is available in your local community such as a bakery, grocery store, post office, parks, a nearby farm or county fair.

Preparation

To prepare the children for the outing or trip, parents and teachers can use a variety of strategies such as sharing and reading children’s books, looking at photographs, bringing in some items that the children may encounter on the trip into the classroom (touching a sample of wool from a sheep, or trying on a fireman’s hat). At meeting or calendar time, a special symbol or picture could be placed on the calendar to indicate the day the trip will take place.

After The Field Trip

In keeping with the concept of ‘plan-do-review’, don’t forget to take pictures of the children while at the event. You can use these later to help recall the experience. Children can draw a picture and dictate to the adult what they liked or learned from the experience. Later, the pages could be compiled into a book to keep in the book or library area of the classroom to revisit. Photos are wonderful tools to communicate to parents and they can continue the learning at home.

Check out this resource from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about how to stay healthy when visiting animal exhibits like a farm or a zoo. The CDC also has great information on how to protect children from the sun.

Check out these examples of children’s books related to the farm and farm animals as well as classroom activity ideas.

Author: Lynn DeVries, Extension Educator | The Learning Child

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Tips For A Happy Healthy Halloween

CSpN9QGUcAAjpeY.jpgWith Halloween around the corner, grocery stores are coming out with sugary treats to hand out to the neighborhood children. Sweets such as candy and chocolate are full of sugar, high in calories, and lack many nutrients that children need. Although purchasing these sugar-filled treats may seem like the routine tradition to do on Halloween, there are other more healthful treat options to hand out to your local trick-or-treaters. Encouraging your community to have a healthy Halloween can be fun for both you and the children!

Be Creative With Food

hallloweenorangesHealthy foods, such as fruits, can be made into fun Halloween-themed treats. Mandarin orange cups or tangerines can be drawn on to look like jack-o-lantern faces. Or, decorate a the wrapper of string cheese like a ghost. These healthy treats provide fun, hands-on activities for your children!

Use Non-Food Treats

spiderringsWho said Halloween treats need to be edible? Local stores have great, non-food alternatives in bulk at the same cost as candy. Candy is there one minute and gone the next, but this list of non-food treats will bring hours of fun for children!

  • Spider rings
  • Halloween foam stickers
  • Halloween-themed pencils
  • Stretchy eyeballs
  • Plastic fangs
  • Halloween-themed erasers
  • Halloween-colored yo-yos
  • Plastic skeletons

 Be Safe

glowsticksSafety precautions should be taken on Halloween. Non-food treats such as glow sticks can provide a safety feature for children to wear while they trick-or-treat in the dark. Lip-shaped whistles are a fun way to have a child let you know they are close by.

Find Healthy Substitutions

Sugar-filled treats can be substituted for nutritious treats at a low-cost. Instead of a pack of M&M’s, hand out packs of mixed nuts. Snacks such as air-popped popcorn, pretzels, and cheese sticks make great alternatives to candy items.

Non-Food Halloween Treats at Local Stores

Walmart: 27th & Superior Street

Reward/Treat Pieces per Pack Price ($)
Stretchy Skeletons 12 0.97
Stretchy Eyeballs 6 0.97
Bat Rings 50 0.97
Foam Stickers 75 0.97
Spider Rings 50 0.97
Plastic Skeletons 12 0.97
Mini Erasers 50 0.97
Glitter Foam Stickers 50 0.97
Glow Bracelet 5 0.97
Plastic Fangs 12 0.97
Bounce Balls 12 1.97
Mini Gel Pens 12 1.97
Pencil Topper Stamps 12 1.97
Puzzle Mazes 8 1.97
Bubbles 12 1.97
Assorted pencils 28 1.97

Dollar Store: 27th & Superior St.

Reward/Treat Pieces per Pack Price ($)
Puffy Stickers 47 1
Skull Rings 50 1
Spider Rings 50 1
Assorted Pencils 50 1
Assorted Erasers 18 1
Assorted Erasers 12 1
Glow Bracelets 8 1
Assorted Stickers Varies 1
Creepy Creatures 12 1
Yo-Yos 8 1
Lip Whistles 6 1
Spin- Tops 8 1

Additional Resources & Links

This Pinterest board gives healthy ideas for Halloween fun.  

Authors: Kelsey Doerr, Jaci Foged and Dipti Dev | The Learning Child

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How To Talk To Your Child About Divorce

Father Holding Daughter's Hand

Talking to children about divorce is difficult. Many children find out that their parents are getting a divorce from other children or adults. This causes children to lose trust in their parents. The following tips can help both the child and parents with the challenge and stress of these conversations:

  • Do not keep the divorce a secret or wait until the last minute.
  • Take time to tell your child together.
  • Keep things simple and straightforward. Use age appropriate language.
  • Tell them the divorce is not their fault.
  • Admit that this will be sad and upsetting for everyone.
  • Reassure your child that you both still love them and will always be their parents.
    • Note:  It is important when talking to young children to not use the term love in this content, “I don’t love your father/mother anymore.”  Use the term you are not getting along anymore and it would be better if you lived in separate houses.  Leave the word “love” for how you will always love them (the child/children).  Otherwise they see you did love the other parent and now you don’t. Does that mean that you might not love me (the child) in the future too!
  • Do not discuss each other’s faults or problems with the child.
    • Note:  This can be very hurtful to your child.  Remember they are a part of both of you. In fact, it may be easy for them to criticize the other parent, but don’t join in because it still hurts them to hear criticism about the other parent.

An open communication between you and your child is very important while going through divorce.  It is always good to check with your child on how they are feeling.

Click here for more information on divorce and separation.

Gail Brand, Extension Educator | The Learning Child

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How Children Learn About Money

CVvs5k_VEAA1qIS.jpgResearch has shown children learn the most about money from their parents. They watch parents spend or save money every day (observation). They also hear their parents talk about money either directly or indirectly (talking it over). And children learn about money by using it themselves (learning by doing).

Observation

Children see what their parents and other adults do with money and they start to understand how their parents feel about it. In turn, this influences how children feel about money. Do parents spend all their money before it’s earned? If so, this may make it hard to teach children about limited resources, planning for spending, and the value of saving. Or do parents save every cent they earn? This attitude may make it hard for children to see that money is a tool, not a goal in and of itself, and can make it difficult for children to spend even for necessities.

Talking It Over

It is important to discuss the family’s financial situation with children at a level appropriate for their age. Encourage children to participate in family financial discussions. Communicate about money one-on-one as the opportunity comes up. For example, daughter wants to buy a digital camera. Her parents tell her they can’t afford it. Then the next week, the parents buy a new vehicle. What does daughter think? Help her understand why it is important to have the vehicle to drive to work and why that need must come before buying her a camera.

When talking about money and saving with children, encourage them to set goals that can realistically be reached in the near future. Saving money for that new camera is more realistic than saving for retirement at the young daughter’s age since retirement is so far in the future. Remember kids live in the present.

Also, be reassuring when talking to children about money. If they discover the house they live in is not completely paid for, they may worry. Assure them the family is able to make the monthly payments and they will not be out in the street by morning.

Learning by Doing

Ideas for actual activities to be done with children to help them learn about using money are described below. Choose activities that are appropriate for the child’s age and current interest:

Play Store

Use play money and “price” a variety of items to help children practice using money.

“Piggy” Banks

Make three banks from jars, boxes or other containers. One bank would be for money to share, a second for cash to spend, and a third for savings.

Make A Savings Plan

Develop a simple savings plan for something they wish to buy. Create a storybook with younger children. Ask them to draw a picture of something they want to buy. On the next page ask them to draw the amount of money they think it will take to buy the item. On the third page have them draw how they are going to find the money they need (either earn it or save it). On the final page have them draw something that shows when they actually will be able to buy the item they want.

Shop Together

Comparison-shop together for an item they want to buy or for a major item for the family.

Cash Transactions

Allow children to make simple cash transactions at the store. Talk about the experience after they are done.

Family’s Money Heritage

With extended family such as grandparents or aunts and uncles, discuss the family’s money heritage using questions like the ones below.

  •  

    Were ancestors poor, rich, landowners, laborers, teachers, entrepreneurs, etc?

  • What kind of house did they live in? What other possessions did they have?
  • What kind of gifts did they give for birthdays, holidays, etc?
  • What did they do for entertainment and how much did it cost?
  • What kind of transportation did they use?
  • Are there any stories of times when they gained or lost money? How did they cope?

Values Game

Play a values clarification game. Place the sign “Agree” on one wall and the sign “Disagree” on another wall.

Read the following statements to children and ask them to move closer to the sign they feel represents what they value for each statement. After they move, ask them to explain the choice they made.

  • Everyone should have a checking account.
  • ATM or debit cards are not safe to use.
  • It is not safe to buy things on the Internet.
  • Using credit cards only leads to deeper debt.
  • Credit cards are a connivence.
  • All children should receive allowances.
  • Only older children should receive allowances.
  • Everyone should own their own home.
  • Only married people should own a home.
  • Only a family should own a home.
  • Having a nice car is the most important thing for a teenager.
  • Teenagers should pay all expenses if they have a vehicle.
  • We should all plan the next family vacation.
  • Only parents should plan family vacations.

Have A Money Discussion With Children

Ask them what the following figures of speech mean:

  • Saving for a rainy day
  • Nest egg
  • Do you think I’m made of money?
  • Money doesn’t grow on trees.
  • A penny saved is a penny earned.
  • It is better to give than to receive.
  • The love of money is the root of all evil.
  • Don’t spend it all in one place.
  • Easy come, easy go.
Leanne M. Manning, Extension Educator, Carla J. Mahar, Extension Educator, and  Kathy Prochaska-Cue, Extension Family Economist

(This article was originally published by Manning, Mahar, and Prochaska-Cue in a NebGuide. It is re-published here with permission.)

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The Importance Of Play

Mother playing with two girlsPlay is a crucial part of your child’s development it starts in infancy and should continue throughout his or her life. When you play with your child it not only helps you to build a positive relationship, strengthen your bond with your child it has additional benefits as well.

Play provides multiple opportunities for children to learn social, communication, and academic skills while building confidence and positive self-esteem. Through play you can help your child learn to solve problems, explore his or her creativity, and build vocabulary. Children learn important friendship skills like turn taking, sharing, and being empathetic. Keep in mind that unstructured physically active play may lead to healthier children, especially when it replaces or helps limit screen time.

Friendship Skills

Some essential benefits of play is that our children begin to learn social and communication skills sharing, turn taking, problem solving, etc. that will help them be more successful when playing with other children. When children have these skills, it often makes it easier for them to make friends!

Giving suggestions, being helpful, giving complements, and understanding how and when to give an apology are all important friendship skills to model when playing with your child.

How To Add More Playtime

  • Brainstorm when you would have 10-15 minutes a day to play with your child,Son and father playing golf be certain to write it down in your calendar.
  • Ask your child for suggestions as to how they would like to spend time playing with you and make a list of all the ways you can play together.
  • If you have more than one child you might want to take this opportunity to spend some one-on-one playtime with each child. You can also plan family fun nights that include play or games.
  • Remember that time spent in the car is another good time to play and to develop skills, you can play age appropriate games that incorporate looking for colors, shapes, letters, and words, etc.
  • Don’t forget books ask your librarian to suggest books that teach friendship, and play skills!

Follow Your Child’s Lead

When playing with your child remember to follow your child’s lead that means to allow for play situations where the child is in control and the adult follows the child’s lead. It is important that children be the decision-makers during play, choosing what and where to play, choosing roles for each player, and choosing how play will proceed. The following suggestions can better guide you in how to follow your child’s lead:

  • Follow your child’s lead that means to wait, watch, and then join your child’s play.
  • With very young children talk, talk, and talk about what your child is doing the adult imitates the child’s play and uses “talk” or “narration” to facilitate language development and this helps your child remain engaged.
  • Encourage your child’s creativity and imaginative thinking. Display artwork or stories in a prominent place (the fridge) or put them in frames. Create an art corner with art supplies and paper for children to be creative. Ask children to make up their own stories or create their own endings to familiar stories.
  • Watch for your child’s cues. Most children aren’t very subtle when they want your attention like tugging at your pant leg or greeting you at the front door when you get home from work. When you plan a specific time to play with your child this may sometimes eliminate them demanding your time when they know that you have set aside time to play with them.
  • Avoid power struggles remember you can be intentional about what you might like for your children to learn from playing however, keep it simple and allow your child to direct the play.
  • Most important have fun together!
Lisa Poppe, Extension Educator | The Learning Child

This article was previously published in a University of Nebraska Extension PDF by Lisa Poppe. Permission to use this post is from the author.

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Enhancing Emotional Literacy: Tips For Early Childhood Professionals

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 10.24.43 AM.pngWe know that supporting children’s social and emotional development is key to school readiness and overall healthy growth and development. One critical component of a child’s social and emotional development is their ability to experience, regulate, and express emotions in socially and culturally appropriate ways. We call this emotional literacy. According to research, children who have a strong foundation in emotional literacy:

  • tolerate frustration better
  • get into fewer fights
  • engage in less destructive behavior
  • are healthier
  • are less lonely
  • are less impulsive
  • are more focused
  • have greater academic achievement

On the other hand, children who don’t learn to use emotional language have a hard time labeling and understanding their own feelings or accurately identifying how others feel.

There are many strategies you can use as an early childhood professional to help support children’s emotional literacy.

Indirect Teaching

One technique that works with infants, toddlers and preschoolers is indirect teaching, which would be when a teacher provides emotional labels – “you’re happy” or “you’re frustrated” – as children experience various affective states.

Teachable Moments

Another example of indirect teaching is building on teachable moments. When children are in the dramatic play area and acting out a scenario, comment on the character’s feeling. For example, the children are “playing house” and the child being the baby is crying. You may then respond, “Why is the baby crying? I think she is sad. What do you think?”

Modeling

Also you are a model for helping children identify and appropriately express their emotions. Therefore, model your own feelings when you are talking with children: “I’m excited that the fire fighters are coming tomorrow in their truck to visit us!” “I’m sad that Melissa is leaving our group and moving to Maine.”

Want to learn more about how to enhance children’s emotional literacy? Visit our website and our Emotional Literacy Lesson

Lisa Poppe, Extension Specialist | The Learning Child

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Cultural Diversity Tips For Parents

iStock_000005787060SmallSpecial Note Six months.jpg

“Dad! My skin matches your skin”, four-year-old Mitchell grabs his father’s hand as they wait in line at the local supermarket. “But look, dad!” Mitchell shouts, “His skin is like chocolate milk!”

If you are the parent of a preschooler, like the dad in the scenario above, you may have experienced your child’s natural observations and curiosity about cultural diversity. Although children’s observations and questions about the ways in which we are diverse maybe embarrassing or uncomfortable for you as a parent, know that children’s curiosity is developmentally appropriate and should be welcomed with open conversations and opportunities to explore together their interest and questions.

Children today live in communities that reflect the diversity of our American society. They interact with other families and children who are from different cultures, speak different languages, or may have a special need. Children also see images of diversity each day in books, toys, and cartoon characters. When you consider how diversity in gender, ability, language, culture, and ethnicity is all around us, it is not unexpected that young children, are very curious and excited about learning from the diverse world and people around them.

For this reason, parents have the opportunity to support children’s natural interests and curiosity by exploring with them their own unique culture as well as those represented in the local community.

Cultural Diversity In The Family

Start first with your own cultural diversity within your family. Create or share a family photo album with your child, discussing your heritage and places around the country or where members of your family are from or have traveled to.

Cultural Diversity In The Home

Complete a visual scan of your home environment. Does your home reflect the diversity of the community and country in which you live? Try a new recipe from another culture, listen to a different musical genre, or expose your child to books, toys, and puzzles that are non-sterotypical and represent affirming and positive images of the cultural group.

For more information on ways you can enhance or spark your child’s curiosity about cultural diversity visit our website and explore the Cultural Diversity topic area.

LISA POPPE, EXTENSION EDUCATOR | THE LEARNING CHILD

This article was previously published for Nebraska Extension by Lisa as a PDF. It is re-published here with her permission.

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