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Teaching Diversity to Preschoolers Without the "Tourist Approach"

Teaching Diversity to Preschoolers Without the "Tourist Approach"

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April 17, 2017 | Kali Kan
Because of the varied nature of the family and living situations of children today, it’s important to focus on teaching diversity to preschoolers in a way that helps them understand and respect the different situations of their peers.

The children at your preschool will come from all walks of life. Your school’s community is made up of families of different cultures, religions, skin colors, and financial backgrounds. Family units may include single-parent families, blended families, or families with two moms or two dads. Children may be living with their birth parents, in a foster home, or with adoptive families – the possibilities are truly endless.

Unfortunately, in many child care centers, cultural diversity is primarily taught during holidays or special events, when educators find it easy to incorporate lessons of different cultures’ ways of celebrating major occasions like Christmas or Hanukkah. In the industry, many refer to this scenario as the “tourist approach”, since it only allows preschoolers a brief glimpse into the true nature and traditions of a culture for a limited period of time, and is often highly generalized and not representative of the personal traditions of that culture.

Many early childhood educators are calling for diversity to be celebrated throughout the year to reinforce acceptance and respect of the cultural backgrounds and family situations of all children in a classroom. The following are some suggestions to better integrate culture into your curriculum and advice on teaching diversity to preschoolers:


  • Involve parents in teaching diversity. Ask parents if they are willing to pay a visit to your classroom to share a cultural custom or family tradition. This could be a song, dance, or story; A traditional food or craft to make.
  • Ensure your toys, books and materials are diverse. Select books, dolls and craft supplies that represent a wide range of ethnicities so they can be incorporated in daily play and curriculum activities.
  • Discuss and compare cultural traditions. Ask children about the special traditions they follow with their families. Point out similarities and differences between the ways they celebrate holidays and special events.
  • Introduce sing along songs with multicultural themes and lyrics in different languages. Pair these songs with a similarly-themed story to reinforce the idea of diversity and acceptance.
  • Let children ask questions about different physical characteristics and practices among cultures. Facilitating open discussion about these differences lets children know it is okay to notice them, and encourages appropriate discussion about them.
  • When talking about a particular holiday, ensure you also give time to the other important holidays from varying cultures. This means more than talking about Hanukkah or Kwanzaa – plan lessons about Diwali, Ramadan, Chinese New Year and others.

Interested in a better way to plan your preschool curriculum to ensure celebration of diversity? Early childhood educators like you can benefit from a comprehensive child care app like HiMama, which is designed to make your lesson planning easy! Learn more about our software, and how it can streamline your planning here.


How do you celebrate diversity in your classroom? Join the conversation at @HiMamaSocial and make sure to sign up for updates from our HiMama Blog for updates on similar content in the future!



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