Tool Box - Cultural Awareness
Stefanie Derr - EEC3408

What is Cultural Competence?

“Cultural Competence means a respect for differences and a willingness to accept the idea that there are many ways of viewing the world” – Rodriquez, 1999

A Helpful resource for further reading and understanding:

Literature or media relating to at least 3 topics discussed throughout this course and the importance of its appropriate integration into our classrooms (DAP practices should always be the standard)

Gender Issues – When we tell children only boys can do something or vice versa, we are placing them into a category. We need to show children that there is no specific thing they need to be good at – rather embrace who they are and what their interests are. This site includes many good children’s books that embrace just that – children of any gender doing something that they enjoy without being told they’re wrong. By building a child’s self-esteem and embracing who they want to be, we will only aid in the growth of a strong child.

Coping with Feelings – Feelings at times can be ignored because “the child doesn’t understand.” Rather than ignoring feelings, educators and parents need to allow children to feel these feelings. By guiding them, we can help them to understand these feelings- how to express them, how to act on them, and how to cope with them.

“If a child is feeling disappointed, angry, or afraid about something, you can be sympathetic and understanding. But you don't need to get into your child's shoes and become disappointed, angry, or afraid yourself. Parents help by standing by their children, not by taking over their children's moods and feelings.”

I found this site helpful in finding children's books about feelings

Self Esteem – Each one of us has self-esteem, be it high or low. When dealing with children, we need to do our best to build their self-esteem. When children feel safe, loved, welcomed, and competent, then it will lead to the building of their positive self-esteem. When we provide children with tools for dealing with their emotions, we can also help to build their self-esteem. To promote self-esteem we also need to give children honest feedback, encouragement, and the opportunity to succeed. When they feel like they have the power to control or do something, we will see more of this action. However, we also need to allow children to experience failure in order for them to acknowledge that they can try again in order to succeed at whatever it is they are trying to accomplish.

I found this reading helpful with understanding Self Esteem

Children’s books about self-esteem

Different ways you can show your students and parents that you value diversity on all levels

I found that by involving families in the classroom, we can show that as educators, we value that all families are different. By giving each family the opportunity to share their culture and diversity with one another, we can develop a better understanding of how each family works. Here are some ideas I thought would be helpful:

  • Weekly Cultural Cooking – A family a week comes to share about their culture and cooks a meal with the class
  • Incorporating and Reading books about many types of families inside the classroom - divorced families, culture, holidays, gay/lesbian, only one parent, blended families, homeless, religious differences, foster parents/adopted children, disabilities
  • Having each child create their own family book and showcasing it to the class so we can all learn and explore each family – how they are different, unique, and how they are all the same
  • Have a Family night where each family brings a special dish to share

How you can communicate with families of various backgrounds and ways you can avoid potential pitfalls when communicating cross-culturally

I think a helpful way to avoid communication pitfalls way is to find someone who speaks the language to be able to share information. I also think educators can send home emails or notes in the language of the families to help them better understand what is happening inside the classroom. I also think a good way to communicate is to send a questionnaire home  at the beginning of the school year asking about the families, their home language, and any other information you feel would be important. You could use these questionnaires when planning Cultural Events to ensure everyone feels included and welcomed.

I found these sites to be helpful when wanting to know about families and their wishes.

How are you going to increase your overall cultural awareness?

To increase my cultural awareness, I think it would be helpful to send home a family questionnaire to get to know my individual families in my class. I also think by building relationships with parents, we can help to bridge the gap between home and school. Parents should feel comfortable to let the educator know changes happening inside the home to ensure that we can give the child the support they may need. I also think I can increase my awareness by just making sure I am educated and up to date on issues happening around the world and inside my classroom.

How you can help counteract any bias or prejudice towards a particular group?

I feel that by providing families the opportunity to show who they are and what they represent, it will allow for other families to feel comfortable to do the same. I think the goal with parent to parent relationships is to show them school is a place of safety – where no one will be judged or turned away for what they believe in. If children are able to accept one another and learn to exist alongside one another, parents should be able to put their bias aside to do the same. I think we can learn a lot from young children. They have no bias other than the one their parents or other adults show them. By building a place of comfort, safety, and love inside of a school or classroom, it will show children and parents that although we are all different, we can get along to ensure the best education for the children.

Specific Community Resources that may be available to parents and families in need; or resources that can help families and parents with particular needs

There are several scholarship programs offered to parents who wish to have their children in a private school. They will pay for the school year and sometimes extra money is left over to provide services for the child (if needed). By services I mean speech therapy, OT, PT, a shadow, one on one, etc. Step up for Students and the McKay Scholarships are great for families in financial need.

I also found these sites for families in need of financial help, parenting advice, mediation, and more.

Other services for free childcare are

Head Start (

VPK (Voluntary Prekindergarten) (

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