How to promote diverse children’s feeling of belonging in the preschool?

In the preschool, many groups have children from different cultural backgrounds or who speak a different language at home. To ensure that all children feel seen and heard, and that they belong to the group, ISOTIS researcher Pauline Slot (Utrecht University) presents recommendations on the Early Years Blog.

Pauline Slot highlights that it is important not only to pay attention to differences between children, but also to similarities. She recommends giving children the message that all (other) home languages ​​are important and part of who they are and come from. At the same time, it is also important that children speak the country language to each other, since it is the language that connects all.

Home language can be used to support children to learn from each other and with each other. It is important to show interest in the different home languages ​​and to use them in learning the country language. For example, the teacher/educator can hang up a glossary of common words in all different languages ​​spoken by the children.

To promote inclusion in the preschool, Pauline Slot shares the following recommendations:

-  Recognize the home language of children as part of their identity. Use other home languages to make children learn from each other. For instance, they can learn in different languages ​​how to say "chicken, cow or sheep". In addition, explain that the country language is the language that connects all.

- Talk about differences and similarities between people. This can be about external characteristics, such as the color of hair or eyes. But, try to go a little further by talking about things that are not immediately visible, such as a hobby or something that a child likes to do. Do this from an open and gender neutral attitude (avoid stereotyping based on sex or cultural background). This can promote the empathy of children.

- Offer group activities and encourage children to work together, and help each other. This way everyone can feel that he or she belongs.

- Take a critical look at the material available. Can all children from different backgrounds identify with it? Do people from different backgrounds appear in the books you read? Are there multiple skin color tones for painting?

Read the full blog post in Dutch: