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Culturally responsive pedagogy can validate children’s cultural identities and enable them to access and engage with the cultural practices of their homes and communities.
Culturally responsive pedagogy involves teachers adapting and transforming their practice as a result of a deep engagement with and understanding of children’s and families’ diverse cultures. Culturally responsive pedagogy affirms, values and draws from children’s cultures, and actively supports and maintains children’s cultural identities and practices.
It is important to note that culturally responsive pedagogy involves more than an awareness of the festivals and diets of major national groups. Individuals are guided by cultural beliefs, values and norms for everyday actions and interactions, leading to significant differences among people from the same cultural background. Culture cannot be reduced to set of practices around food, costume and holidays.
Cultural differences between home practices and those of early childhood settings can negatively affect children’s adjustment to the setting and their subsequent learning. Culturally responsive pedagogy can mitigate the difficulties and marginalisation families experience when their home cultural practices are in conflict with those of the early childhood setting and mainstream culture.
While there is currently little evidence that directly links culturally responsive practices to increased learning and achievement, the incorporation of aspects of children’s home culture into early childhood settings in New Zealand has been shown to successfully mediate the learning experiences of Chinese immigrant children in comparison to children in settings where their home cultures are not supported. Research also demonstrates reduced stereotypes and increased parent partnership when teachers’ practices are culturally responsive.
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