In a multi-cultural, multi-racial country like Singapore, it is vital that our children be taught to understand and appreciate different cultures, especially those that are not their own. Studies show that cultural appreciation and awareness contribute to building a positive self-image.
Furthermore, learning about various cultures helps children develop a strong foundation of belonging and acceptance of others. Beyond racial and cultural tolerance, teachers seek to raise little citizens of the world with a genuine fascination and respect for other cultures.
Here are some ways that preschool teachers in Singapore introduce an appreciation of the cultures of the world to the children.
Celebrate holidays and traditions
One wonderful thing about living in Singapore is that we get to celebrate the holidays and traditions of the main cultures and religions in Singapore such as – Chinese New Year, Hari Raya Puasa, Deepavali and Christmas.
Participating joyfully and respectfully in the traditions related to these festivals and holidays teaches children the reasons for each one, and helps them build the understanding that their personal, family traditions can differ quite a bit from their friends’. Many preschools in Singapore also encourage the children to come in ethnic outfits for special celebrations like Racial Harmony Day, all the better to bask in the beautiful diversity of traditional fashions.
In Kiddiwinkie Schoolhouse, Discovery of the World is one of the specific learning areas in our core programme, which is mapped to the Nurturing Early Learners (NEL) and the Early Years Development Framework (EYDF) set by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA).
Bilingualism and even multilingualism in children has many researched advantages, including advanced linguistic, cognitive and socio-emotional skills. According to this study, dual language learners have a “special opportunity to forge relationships with their family’s heritage” and are better able to maintain strong ties with their family, culture and community.
The Chinese Cultural Immersion Programme (文化之窗) in Kiddiwinkie Schoolhouse is an example of how our children can develop a deeper knowledge and understanding of the Chinese culture. Furthermore, such immersion programmes help to cultivate a love of the language as the children gain a better mastery of Mandarin.
Selected Kiddiwinkie Schoolhouse campuses also offer Japanese, Korean and French lessons which are conducted by native teachers, and available to both local and international children.
Reading a variety of books on other cultures
Whether the children are in playgroup, nursery or kindergarten, teachers can introduce the wide world out there through reading books.
Picture books in particular can make cultural differences more easily appreciated in simple ways by younger children. It can be tricky for parents to navigate some questions, such as those about skin colour, but teachers can help create a safe space in school for children to raise these questions and answer them in sensitive ways, using books and stories along the way.
Children’s books are wonderful resources for helping children develop a sense of their cultural identity as well as an understanding of those who are different in race, religious beliefs, and cultural practices.
Explore new cultures around the world
It is important to have a global outlook when learning about cultures and traditions; after all, we live in a global world with shrinking international barriers. Many children in preschools in Singapore come from families with roots all over the world, not just in Southeast Asia. Teachers can introduce new, unfamiliar cultures to children to help them understand that there are even more customs out there that they may not know about.
As part of Kiddiwinkie Schoolhouse’s effort to cultivate thorough cultural awareness, the programme Backpack Stories is dedicated to explore a different country every term. A wonderfully immersive curriculum guides the children through a hands-on exploration of the chosen country’s culture through food, music, art and even dance.
Looking for a preschool in Singapore that celebrates cultural diversity?
Kiddiwinkie Schoolhouse has both infant care (in selected campuses) and preschool programmes. Find out more about our curriculum and book a tour at your preferred campus to see how our children are encouraged to explore, discover and showcase their creativity and imagination.