Cultural diversity is a prominent issue in New Zealand. The country considers cultural diversity as one of the most important principles of the New Zealand Curriculum. The framework that has been provided to the schools in order to help their decision-making, asks the schools and the educators to acknowledge the presence of the diverse cultures within the country. Moreover, all students are to be considered as individuals and it is the duty of the educator to celebrate and held their diversity (Rau & Ritchie, 2005). It has been recommended that the process of early childhood education is to be held as responsive to the diversity that is present within the groups. In addition to this, it can also be said that the cultural diversity amongst students also influence factors such as socio-economic backgrounds, cultural heritages and so on. Being a culturally and linguistically diversified country, New Zealand needs to incorporate such frameworks so that the children need to acquire skills and knowledge in order to cope up with the multi-cultural setting (Haworth et al., 2006). In an early childhood teaching set up, it is thus important incorporate the wider views and values, respect for other cultures and languages.
According to Zhong (2013), the educational set ups that acknowledge cultural diversities are equipped with teachers those are aware of the cultural differences amongst the children. Hence, various cultural contexts are included into the teaching learning programs. Every child is provided with the opportunities so that they can share their culture and heritage with others. This in turn makes the children more confident and proud of their culture. In addition to this, by sharing and knowing about different cultures, the children learn to respect other cultures and heritages as well. It is the primary responsibility of the teachers to create and support an inclusive atmosphere for the children belonging to the minority section of the country. To illustrate it furthermore, an example of the inclusive childcare set up can be taken. It is found that in most of these schools, the teachers stand at the door to great welcome and farewell to the students as well as the parents. According to the teachers, this help the children and their families to feel welcomed. In many of the cultures and communities, it is a custom to greet people standing at the door. Moreover, the early educators speak the native language of the children, so that they can feel connected to the teachers. This helps them to open up more and communicate. In addition to that, the children in a classroom learn to value other languages and to accept the diversity. In addition to that, language has been identified as one of the most effective tool in bridging the cultural gap. Language is considered as an effective tool that helps in the process of completing thoughts. According to Karen, (2010), language as a powerful tool that helps the children to make sense of the world and building cognitive development.
Educators in an inclusive learning set up often takes up teaching and learning strategies in order to promote a sense of belonging. The strategies of incorporating the minority children often involves parents in the learning process. As the children feel most secured with their parents, and the instructions given by the parents are easier for them to understand, educators often find that engaging parents into the procedure is highly effective. In addition to this, the inclusive approach includes developmental programs for the teachers as well ("Module 5: The inclusive approach to teaching and learning | UNRWA", 2018). The program provides the teachers with the opportunity to reflect upon their own teaching methods and their learning. The self-reflection and the learning through the entire program help them to explore the nature of their profession and the learning a professional. In addition to this, the inclusive practice also asks the educators to reflect on the influence of the program upon the teaching learning procedure and the impact that it has on themselves. Along with that, the practice also explores the various ways of connecting with the parents. Usage of a range of strategies and tools are also important in order to maintain a healthy and regular contact with the parents. By applying these strategies, the cultural diversities can be retained and practiced in an early childhood set up.
In New Zealand, poverty is one of the biggest and consistent problems. The problem is being persistent throughout decades and this in turn is affecting the physical and mental development. In addition to this, high rates of poverty indicates social and political injustice to the families as well as the children belonging to the underprivileged section of the society. The Food and Agricultural Organization refers poverty as a situation where the children are unable to achieve the acceptable standards of social living. According to the studies, it is found that low-income is the primary reason behind the poverty. It can also be understood that child poverty is not only a mere economic issue, but it also creates educational, health and philosophical problems. As a result of the poverty issues, the children are facing difficulties in accessing their basic necessities (Di Cesare et al., 2013). It is very alarming to find that these children do not have the bare necessities such as proper housing, nutritional foods and education. In addition to this, the children are facing inequalities in their everyday activities. Hence, they are being marginalized. It has been found out that the persistent problem of poverty is a result of plethora of political, social and economic factors. In the absence of a market, that is functioning effectively, a society witness economic underdevelopment. Moreover, due to the inability of the weaker section of the society to participate in the economic scenario is another issue that weakens the strength to overcome. Moreover, the political issues are very much effective in this respect. To illustrate it furthermore examples of the governmental policies can be taken into account. Since 1991, the country is facing worse scenario in dealing with the poverty issues (Mendes, 2017). As the government lowered the subsidy for the underprivileged section, the common people are facing difficulties in maintain their livelihood.
As a result of this, the children are suffering from malnutrition and diseases related to that. During these past decades, the child mortality rates have increased to an alarming level. Various researches have been conducted to find out that the families that are dealing with problems related to the lower income and higher poverty rates are mostly belonging to the immigrant section. Moreover, the Maori and the Pacific Island families are suffering to the most. In addition to that, it is noticeable that the families having children are most likely to be dealing with poverty (Rodriguez & McDonald, 2013). The families that are dealing with these problems such as insufficiency of food, housing and clothing. This in turn creates a negative impact on the minds of the children; they are distressed due to the constant turmoil in their lives and families. As the popular legislation suggests, the women and children of the Aotearoan society are regarded as possessions. Hence, the responsibility of childcare falls upon the parents. Moreover, the children are being considered as secondary when compared to the interests of the adults. This creates huge conflict in fulfilling the emotional needs of the children. According to Atwool, (1999), most of the parents are lacking in taking proper care of their children due to lack of time. They find it compelling to devote more time to their employers than to the children. Hence, it can be said that the nature and notion of parenting is to be changed in order to fulfill the needs of the children. Atwool, (1999) has proposed that “social parenthood” is needed in order to overcome these issues. The children hence should not be regarded as possessions and responsibilities of their parents, but as a social entity. The responsibility of childcare is to be shared between the parents and the government.
Educators and the classroom set up play important roles in managing the situation. Various initiatives have been taken by the government and different NGOs in order to cope up with the situation. Different programs and initiatives are being taken where nutritional foods, clothes and other necessary items. In this regard, the teachers’ role is very important aspect to analyze (Blaiklock, 2013). In order to make these children that they belong to the society as well as the classroom environment. Providing the children similar opportunities and rights of participation. Moreover, the inclusive approach that can play a helpful role is the teacher’s role in promoting literacy amongst the children (McLachlan & Arrow, 2014). The children along with their parents are made aware of the importance of literacy. Moreover, it stresses on the fact that literacy expands better ways of understanding and increases skills amongst the students. This is helpful in a way to combat poverty in their near future (Alcock & Haggerty, 2013). In this context, it can also be mentioned that over the years, the government has taken up actions to support the children belonging to the underprivileged sections. However, the educators of the early childhood set-ups have taken up the most effective initiatives
Children with Diverse Abilities
In the early childhood education, inclusion of children belonging to various abilities is very important. It has been noticed that the children having disabilities, face discriminations in many situations (Ballard, 2016). Moreover, the families and parents of these children also experience social exclusions. Hence, it is very important for the early education teachers to help in the development of a sense of belonging from a very early age (Waitoller & Artiles, 2013). It is found that as results of discriminations, these children are not having access to their rights. More often, it is seen that these children are not able to have even their basic education. In addition to that, it is also been found that in certain cases the educators use negative response and views regarding the disabled children and moreover, disapprove of the enrolment of these children into the early childhood learning centers. Hence, it is understandable that these situations restrict the children to participate into the everyday activities (Liasidou et al., 2014). Moreover, they lose the opportunities of learning languages and experiencing new opportunities.
Hence, the government has come up with frameworks that encourage the inclusive approach. This framework helps the children with disability and their families to be inclusive in the process of early childhood settings. It is strongly believed that the early experiences of a child, irrespective of his or her physical ability, is highly influenced and affected by the values and ideas of the teachers (Rietveld, 2010). In the process of inclusion, the educators share the philosophy of fair practices and equal rights for all children, irrespective of their ability. These educators work towards the social justice and fairness for the disabled children. Hence, underneath the inclusion process the educators work towards creating a favorable environment for the disabled children and their social inclusion (Claiborne & Drewery, 2010). Most importantly, social inclusion talks for providing a normal and ordinary environment for the disabled children. It is hence the responsibility of the teachers to provide a caring and supporting set up for the children, so that they are encouraged in taking parts in the social activities. Moreover, the inclusion also helps every child to understand the importance of social inclusion. Hence, in an inclusive setting of early childhood education, the educator is entirely responsible for the nurture and care of the children having disabilities. Moreover, these educators ensure the fact that the kids take participation in every normal and ordinary social program and activities. Moreover, the teachers, those work towards the social inclusion of these children, also works towards removing the hurdles in their learning processes (Monsen, Ewing & Kwoka, 2014). According to the researches done, it is seen that the teaching methods and the languages that are used in the inclusive learning set up, encourage the children to participate (Haworth et al., 2006). Moreover, the families and the children have positive experiences in their early childhood educations.
In this context, it is also to be mentioned that the educators often find themselves into such situations where they need to modify the curriculum to support the especially abled children. In addition to that, the teachers often adopt various teaching methods. Moreover, the teachers often collaborate and towards providing better set up to these children.
Moreover, the inclusive approach towards teaching and learning can be accounted as one of the most effective measure in this regard. Along with the development of inclusive schools and teaching procedures, it is also very important to identify and address the diverse needs of the disabled children (Hornby, 2015). As the students might have been suffering from various impairments related to their physical and mental health, it is understandable that they will have different needs. Hence, in order to include them to the mainstream, it is necessary to address their needs. Moreover, adopting supportive teaching learning strategies are also important. These strategies include application of interactive teaching learning sessions and multi-sensory approaches in order to develop the abilities and skills of the children.
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