5 Lessons about Inclusivity That Young Kids Should Learn in Preschool

kids laying on a floor looking up
*Collaborative Post

The modern world is more interconnected and culturally diverse than ever before. Consequently, inclusivity and respect for diversity have never been more important. Learning these values from an early age enriches one’s understanding of the myriad ways people live, think, and interact within the global community. An early education in inclusivity thus helps to nurture individuals who are more empathetic and understanding—and therefore also more capable of thriving in a diverse world.

Preschools play a pivotal role in laying the foundation for these values. At this formative stage, children are highly impressionable and receptive to the lessons they learn, both through direct instruction and observation of the world around them. The best early childhood education institutions, like Kinderland Singapore, recognise the importance of integrating inclusivity into their curriculum in actionable, understandable ways. A Kinderland education will prepare children for the many complexities of contemporary life and set them on a path to becoming respectful, open-minded adults. To see this in action, parents of prospective enrollees can check out channels like Kinderland SG’s official Instagram page.

The purpose of this article is to highlight some key lessons about inclusivity and diversity that preschools can teach young learners. Here are some examples of lessons and how they are imparted, all so that parents can better appreciate the role that early education plays in shaping their children’s values and perspectives:

1) Empathy and Kindness

Empathy, or the ability to understand and share the feelings of another, is necessary for understanding and practising inclusivity. Teaching empathy and kindness at the preschool level encourages children to consider the perspectives and feelings of others, which in turn helps build a classroom environment where every child feels valued and understood.

The benefits of this lesson also extend beyond the classroom; children who have been taught the value of empathy are better equipped to navigate various social situations, resolve conflicts amicably, and build meaningful relationships throughout their lives.

Teachers can foster empathy through various activities, such as storytelling and role-playing. Upon engaging with stories where characters face challenges or experience different emotions, children will learn to relate to and understand the feelings of others. Role-playing also allows them to experience situations from another’s perspective, which further deepens their empathetic understanding.

Lastly, group activities that require cooperation and teamwork encourage children to practice kindness and consider the needs and feelings of their peers. These are lessons that can, and should, be ingrained in a child’s earliest years.

2) Taking a Stand against Bullying

It’s never too early for kids to learn the importance of standing up against bullying, both on their own behalf and on behalf of others. This lesson teaches children to recognise bullying behaviour and understand its impact on individuals.

Learning the importance of compassion, respect, and the courage to speak up shows children how they can contribute to a positive and inclusive environment both in school and out of it. The emphasis on anti-bullying education helps to cultivate a school culture where every child feels safe and respected.

Preschool teachers typically introduce this lesson through discussions, stories, and role-playing exercises that illustrate what bullying is and why it’s harmful. Upon acting out and watching imaginary scenarios that mimic real-life situations, children can learn how to identify bullying and explore appropriate responses to it.

Teachers may also encourage their students to express their feelings and thoughts about bullying, as this opens up an open and supportive dialogue between children and the adults responsible for protecting them.

3) Understanding and Respecting Different Cultures

The mosaic of world cultures offers an incredible opportunity for learning and growth, especially in the early years of a child’s development. By introducing young learners to the traditions, languages, and celebrations of various cultures, preschools can help kids nurture the seeds of a global perspective. This education helps kids cultivate an appreciation for diversity and instils a deep respect for people from all walks of life.

Immersive activities that celebrate the richness of different cultures are highly effective for teaching cultural awareness to preschool kids. Telling stories from various countries, for instance, opens windows to new experiences and viewpoints, while traditional music and dance invite children to step into another’s shoes, if only for a moment. Culinary days or art projects inspired by different traditions will further enhance their understanding and respect for the many diverse cultures in the world.

4) Disability Awareness

Teaching children disability awareness from an early age is an important step towards building a more inclusive community. This lesson goes beyond simply recognising different abilities; it also involves fostering an environment where every child feels supported and included, without exception.

Upon learning about disabilities at an early age, children also learn to recognise that while individuals may face their own unique challenges and have different capabilities, all people deserve to be treated with dignity and compassion.

Activities designed to increase disability awareness include reading books that feature characters with disabilities, engaging with guest speakers who share their experiences, and discussing the concept of accessibility and inclusivity in simple terms. Some schools incorporate adaptive play equipment or modify games to be inclusive, which allow children to experience firsthand what it might be like to navigate the world with a disability.

Through such experiences, children learn the importance of empathy, support, and the creative thinking needed to ensure that a society’s most vulnerable members are never left behind.

5) Family Diversity

The concept of family goes beyond the traditional boundaries to encompass a wide array of structures and dynamics, each with its unique strengths and challenges. Recognising and celebrating this diversity in preschool settings equips children with a broader understanding of the world around them and helps them understand that love and care within a family can manifest in many different forms. Children who acknowledge the reality of family diversity are better equipped to build relationships based on understanding rather than preconceived notions of what all families should be like.

Early childhood educators can illuminate the diverse nature of families through a variety of engaging methods. Sharing stories and books that depict different family setups, including single-parent families and blended families, can help kids broaden their ideas of what family can mean.

Discussions and activities like drawing their own families or sharing stories about family traditions also allow children to express their own experiences and learn about those of their classmates. Special events like “Family Day,” which invite families into the preschool, provide tangible ways for children to see the diversity among their peers.

The journey towards a more inclusive world begins in the hearts and minds of its youngest citizens. Teachers and parents should do their best to embed the principles of inclusivity in a kid’s early childhood education, thus paving the way for a future characterised by collective understanding and a shared sense of humanity.

*This is a collaborative post. For further information please refer to my disclosure page.

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