“Miwa doesn’t ever talk,” said one of my boisterous preschoolers after I asked Miwa a question during Group Time. Miwa had been in our class for several weeks. She was very quiet. I recognized that from her Asian culture she would not speak up to answer if I asked a general question of all the preschoolers, but she would answer if I asked a question directly to her. She would talk in the group if it was her turn. I said, “Miwa likes to talk when it is her turn,” and then I repeated the question to Miwa. She smiled and spoke up to give her answer.
Preschool classrooms at church are becoming richer as we see more diversity of cultures represented. Your Mission Friends group may include preschoolers from more than one cultural background. This is an opportunity for preschoolers to learn about themselves and others. What are ways to include learning about the cultures of preschoolers in your group?
- Use classroom materials that are representative of the cultures in your Mission Friends classroom, such as dolls and books, and people figures for Blocks.
- If you have preschoolers whose home language is not English, include books that are bilingual or written in their home language.
- For classroom areas or bins that are labeled, use each language represented.
- Say or print a Bible thought in both languages. A parent could help you translate the Bible thought.
- Include fabrics in patterns or colors of the preschoolers’ home cultures, such as baby blankets or tablecloths in Homeliving.
- Provide dress-up clothes and music from cultures represented in your classroom.
- Be sensitive to the cultural customs or norms of preschoolers in your group, such as eye contact or physical space practices.
- Ask families to share photos of their families, and display these in creative ways.
- Create a class book about families.
- Ask a preschooler’s family to help you learn some words or phrases in their home language, and use these words with your Mission Friends.
- Invite families to share a family recipe and why that food is important to their family.
- At holidays, ask families to share about holiday celebrations.
- Ask a preschoolers’ family to teach a favorite game or song from their culture. A parent could translate a simple song like “God Is So Good” into their home language.
- Invite families to wear traditional clothing from their culture and model for preschoolers.
Recognizing the cultures of preschoolers helps them learn to respect themselves and others. Help preschoolers see that God made us all unique, but we also have similarities. Including the cultures of your Mission Friends will enrich your preschoolers’ lives as they learn that God loves each one of us.
Written by Joye Smith