The convention of diversity comes in many shapes and forms. From race to religion, from gender to culture or physical abilities, we are all brought into this world with a host of differences that make us unique. Practicing and being aware of diversity is a useful practice in almost every area of our lives.
Because psychologists have said that children can notice differences as early as six months old, it is never too early to begin teaching children to appreciate and accept the differences of others. Embracing cultural diversity is an important skill, even at the daycare level, and in a Montessori program, that is when children begin learning about diversity.
So, why is it necessary to teach diversity in daycare?
The Montessori philosophy holds teaching diversity up with the most important of the skills they teach their students. When Dr. Maria Montessori opened the first Montessori school, one of her main priorities was to encourage harmony and understanding on a major scale. Montessori concluded that the best way to bring unity to the world was through education.
In a Montessori school, it is a priority to encourage and protect cultural diversity. Montessori philosophy asks that its schools expose students to other cultures in their classroom and lessons, teaching students to appreciate differences. By promoting the understanding of other cultures, Montessori programs align themselves with the fundamental aim of Dr. Montessori’s vision: peace.
Dr. Montessori said, “This is education, understood as a help to life; an education from birth, which feeds a peaceful revolution and unites all in a common aim, attracting them to a single center.” Because finding a single center was a skill found to be essential in Dr. Montessori’s research, peaceful conflict resolution is one of the most important life skills taught at Montessori schools.
At the daycare level, children may need support to form positive views on people who look or act differently than they do. Montessori programs help to develop acceptance by learning about and celebrating differences. Because discrimination and stereotypes come from society training us to believe that certain groups are good while others are bad. In environments that are not diverse, young children have less exposure to diverse groups, resulting in fewer conversations about diversity and providing more room for prejudice.
When young children, especially at the daycare level, notice someone of another race or ethnicity, they often point out their physical differences like skin tone or hair texture. In the Montessori daycare, we allow children to use their skills of observation and awareness of differences, even encouraging them to provide praise for the beauty of the differences they noticed. Furthermore, the Montessori philosophy asks that children take the next step and point out what the individual has to offer instead of focusing on their looks, like speaking another language or traditions of another culture.
Building Secure Relationships
The foundation of solid and secure relationships begins being built at an early age. These types of relationships are characterized by things like consideration, understanding, and awareness of self and others. The force of awareness helps children and adults alike notice when bias is leaking into the perceptions of others. By teaching diversity at a young age, Montessori schools are taking active steps to change their students’ perceptions and interactions, making their connections to others stronger.
Montessori schools have a method of nurturing these relationships by creating a welcoming environment for both students and their parents. Members of the Montessori community come from diverse family structures and backgrounds, and by teaching diversity and acceptance in the classroom, Montessori programs allow for greater trust and communication between parents, teachers, and young students as they back the development of the child.
Through everyday exchanges where children pick up on critiques and other nonverbal behaviors toward people of different backgrounds, they are taught at a young age to attribute particular connotations to race, culture, and other forms of diversity. This is why it is crucial to begin dismantling discrimination and prejudice at a young age to move toward Dr. Montessori’s goal of peace and harmony.
The Montessori School of Fremont applies the educational philosophy and methods of Maria Montessori, M.D., a renowned Italian physician, and child educator. The Montessori Elementary program is a natural extension of the Primary program and builds on the knowledge and skills gained in the Primary. It is our aim to help your child reach their greatest potential. Visit our blog to learn more about our method or reach out today to begin your journey with The Montessori School of Fremont.