Providence: Christian Montessori Community engages all areas of our mission in celebrating culture diversity. As Christians, we love our neighbor as ourselves, as Montessorians, we understand and study the beauty of the human experience all over the globe, and as a Community we honor the backgrounds and differences that each family brings to the school.
We want to share with you what that looks like to give you better understanding:
First, we try to prepare the environment by having various ethnicities and races represented. This has been a priority for our school from the beginning. We feel the greatest way to increase understanding is to build trusting relationships with people of various backgrounds so students learn that people have far more important similarities than outward differences, and that differences are something to learn and appreciate.
Secondly, we have an array of books and materials that also show a range of cultural awareness. Some of our favorites include: Shades of People, Skin Like Mine, All Kinds of People. Global Babies, The Color of Us, and Becker’s Around the World book set.
Thirdly, we make it a point to model an appreciation of differences for cultures around the world and in our communities. Teachers look for opportunities to emphasize this in everyday interactions that become teachable moments and in specific lessons given.
During the “About Me” unit each year we are acknowledging differences and actively speaking about how everyone is valued.
For example: A child says, ”I’m the only one with blue eyes.” Teacher responds: “Yes, your eyes are very nice and I like all the eye colors. What are all the colors you see in your friends eyes.” Child: ” My skin is darker than his” Teacher: “You’re right. You have more melanin in your skin which makes it a lovely dark shade and he has less melanin which gives it a lovely light shade. Isn’t it so exciting how God made us all so unique!”
Children will also naturally make assumptions that are incorrect about many things in their world.
Child, ”You must be darker because you drink chocolate milk.” Teacher, ”That’s an interesting thought. Actually we find that some people have darker skin because they have more melanin in their skin.”
Other specific lessons are included as we study each continent. During these times, we make a point to reinforce the idea that differences are important. These are the food, clothing and shelter typically found in this area. Teacher: “Why do you think this type of food is eaten or type of shelter is built?” (Often it has to do with the climate and natural resources in the area.)
Families from specific regions are asked to share some of their cultural experiences that may be new and interesting to our students – such as an Indian holiday or food from Ghana.
Celebrating cultural differences is a valuable thing to do at home as well. Being sensitive to the time in your child’s life when they are noticing differences, making assumptions or asking specific questions is important. Things you can do at home to celebrate diversity include complementing those who have differences in appearance, explaining why people have those differences because God made them that way through DNA that they received from their parents, having books and materials at home that show a variety of cultures and skin tones, and having conversations in a gentle way that emphasize our need to appreciate others and to always be kind to everyone.
If you ever find that cultural diversity is something your child is concerned or starting to notice, please share with your child’s teacher. It is helpful for us to know when windows of opportunity arise to help our students have a positive understanding of different cultures.