Accommodating culturally diverse learners

Implicit in the current debate about diversity and early education are differing perceptions of the goals of early education.

The goal of assimilation would suggest different practices than would the goal of preserving children's native cultures.

Today we're going to meet three students: Giang, Isabella, and Alex. How can we accommodate these diverse students in physical education class? Giang is a student who was born and partially raised in Vietnam.

The final student is also from a different country but is only beginning to learn English.

Children want to fit in and want to please, as a general rule.

They’re just not always sure what the appropriate way to blend into the class is.

As stated by David Dickinson: “Any suggestions that we have obvious connections to practice need to be heavily laden with caveats.” With this in mind, the participants framed a set of issues that they believed could contribute to a more informed discussion of the early education of children from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

In general, they were extremely cautious about taking the step from research to practice.

Today’s classrooms require that instructors possess competencies for teaching all students.

Robust instructional strategies and culturally sensitive curricula are critical, but more important is an instructor who is sensitive and responsive to the unique differences of each student.

For those concerned with the issues presented by an increasingly diverse student population, preschool education has become a focal point of differing views about how best to accommodate the increasing cultural and linguistic diversity in American society and to prepare children from diverse backgrounds for school success (Jipson, 1991).

Opinions range from those who advocate acculturation to mainstream educational materials and practices, including immersion in English language, to those who support instructional approaches that have as a primary objective the maintenance of children's home culture and language.

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