Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 2: Program Activities for Healthy Development

2.1 Program of Developmental Activities

2.1.1 General Program Activities Diversity in Enrollment and Curriculum

Programs should work to increase understanding of cultural, ethnic, and other similarities and differences by enrolling children who reflect the cultural and ethnic diversity of the community. Programs should provide cultural curricula that engage children and families and teach multicultural learning activities. Indoor and outdoor learning/play environments should have an array of toys, materials, posters, etc. that reflect diverse cultures and ethnicities. Stereotyping of any culture must be avoided.
Children who participate in programs that reflect and show respect for the cultural diversity of their communities learn to understand and value cultural diversity. This learning in early childhood enables their healthy participation in a democratic pluralistic society (peaceful coexistence of different interests, convictions, and lifestyles) throughout life (1-3,11,12). By facilitating the expression of cultural development or ethnic identity and by encouraging familiarity with different groups and practices through ordinary interaction and activities integrated into a developmentally appropriate curriculum, a facility can foster children’s ability to relate to people who are different from themselves, their sense of possibility, and their ability to succeed in a diverse society, while also promoting feelings of belonging and identification with a tradition.
Sharing information about the child on a daily basis with the children’s families shows respect for the children’s cultures by creating an opportunity to learn more about the families’ background, beliefs, and traditions (5-9). Materials, displays, and learning activities must represent the cultural heritage of the children and the staff to instill a sense of pride and positive feelings of identification in all children and staff members (4). In order to enroll a diverse group, the facility should market its services in a culturally sensitive way and should make sincere efforts to employ staff members that represent the culture of the children and their families (10). Children need to see members of their own community in positions of influence in the services they use. Scholarships and tuition assistance can be used to increase the diversity among enrolled children.
Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
  1. Wardle, F. 1998. Meeting the needs of multicultural and multiethnic children in early childhood settings. Early Child Education J 26:7-11.
  2. Ramsey, P. G. 1998. Teaching and learning in a diverse world: Multicultural education for young children. 2nd ed. New York: Teachers College Press.
  3. Ramsey, P. G. 1995. Growing up with the contradictions of race and class. Young Child 50:18-22.
  4. Maschinot, B. 2008. The changing face of the United States: The influence of culture on early child development. Washington, DC: Zero to Three.
  5. Williams, K. C., M. H. Cooney. 2006. Young children and social justice. Young Children 61:75-82.
  6. Gonzalex-Mena, J. 2008. Diversity in early care and education: Honoring differences. 5th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill.
  7. Gonzalez-Mena, J. 2007. 50 early childhood strategies for working and communicating with diverse families. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Merrill Prentice Hall.
  8. Bradely, J., P. Kibera. 2006. Closing the gap: Culture and promotion of inclusion in child care. Young Children 61:34-40.
  9. Romero, M. 2008. Promoting tolerance and respect for diversity in early childhood: Toward a research and practice agenda. Report of the Promoting Tolerance and Respect for Diversity in Early Childhood Meeting, Brooklyn, NY, June 25, 2007. http://www.nccp
  10. Matthews, H. 2008. Supporting a diverse and culturally competent workforce: Charting progress for babies in child care. Charting Progress for Babies in Child Care: A CLASP Child Care and Early Education Project, Washington, DC.
  11. Parent Services Project (PSP). Making room in the circle. Training Curriculum, PSP, San Rafael, CA.
  12. Fox, R. K. 2007. One of the hidden diversities in schools: Families with parents who are Lesbian or Gay. Childhood Education 83:277-81.