- Many curriculum models used in schools do not reflect the diversity within classrooms, Roisleen Todd, a curriculum and instruction specialist for Chicago Public Schools' Office of Early Childhood Education, writes for Edutopia, suggesting there are three questions educators can ask to steer curriculum toward a more culturally responsive model for students.
- To start, educators should learn about their students, consider participating in community events with families, send home surveys and build activities in class that are student-driven. Next, teachers can assess what children see when they walk into a classroom and ensure students are not only reflected, but that identities students don’t share are not overly represented.
- Finally, educators should consider asking students and their families what they feel is important to learn, and create lessons and curriculum that invite children to use their own cultural experiences and lives in their work.
Culturally responsive curriculum can look different in the early childhood and lower elementary school levels compared to later grades. Still, pre-K and early elementary could be a good time to introduce base-level concepts.
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Early Childhood Learning & Knowledge Center highlights some curricula that can guide educators of young students, in addition to also rating why some curricula don't meet its approval.
World of Wonders, for example, is one that encourages educators to develop a home and school connection, having children bring cultural objects into the classroom, including dishes families cook that are special to their traditions. TKCalifornia, which focuses on pre-school curriculum, says young children respond more to learning opportunities that allow them to interact together through, for example, play, as opposed to a more rote and formal style.
Early grades are also a good time to introduce curricula that reflects students backgrounds, ensuring they see people who mirror them and their lives in the books they read and the material covered in the classroom. This is also something educators in middle and high school can focus on, as well.
Northeastern University researchers suggest educators of all grades look through classroom libraries and see if there is a diversity of authors, including different races as well as LGBTQ representation. Teachers may also consider if stories reflect families living in both suburban and city environments, and they may want to evaluate posters on classroom walls as to whether they reflect diversity, too.