As we celebrate the Universal Month for Human Rights, we reflect on its meaning. Human Rights Month is about encouraging dignity and respect for people of all backgrounds and acknowledging that people of different races, religions, cultures, and beliefs are still just that: people.
The U.S. is a diverse nation. We are seeing children from all cultures and backgrounds in our classrooms. Some come into the classroom speaking the same language as the teachers and others do not. How can teachers make children feel welcome enough in their classroom to start the learning process? This goes beyond traditional multicultural education and is more about individualizing relationships with each student so he or she feels like a part of the classroom community. A recent article from NAEYC (The National Association for the Education of Young Children) has outlined 5 strategies that can help.
- Pronounce each child’s name as closely as possible
- Learn to say some things in every child’s language
- Celebrate each child’s authentic culture
- Teach children strategies for respectful communication with peers across languages.
- Give every child a chance to be a helper.
Music has been called the universal language. So why not use music as a vehicle to help bridge the communication gap with your students? This way you can get ALL of your students involved!
For example, a song such as What is Your Name? from Learning Basic Skills Through Music, Vol. 1 can help make learning names fun and easy for all the children. Also, asking parents to suggest simple songs from their culture to play for the class is a great way to have the students learn about each other.
We would love to hear some of the techniques that you have found successful in your classroom for encouraging inclusion, dignity and respect. Leave your comments in the section below.