MTA supports the ECEC sector to celebrate diversity with resource showcase
The fourth principle of the Early Years Learning Framework, respect for diversity, reminds educators that when children join early childhood education and care (ECEC) services, they do so having first been born belonging to a culture, which is not only influenced by traditional practices, heritage and ancestral knowledge, but also by the experiences, values and beliefs of individual families and communities.
Educators are asked, in this principle, to show that they respect diversity and offer a curriculum that values and reflects the practices, values and beliefs of families. When working with principle four, educators recognise that diversity contributes to the richness of our society and provides a valid evidence base about ways of knowing. In Australia this especially includes promoting greater understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing and being, while also celebrating Australia’s diverse cultural community which thrives when all are acknowledged and valued.
The team at MTA have curated a specialist range of resources that will support children to develop their self identity, to experience a sense of community and belonging. The range also allows educators to acknowledge and respect cultural diversity, and promote inclusivity through resources and practices, as well as contributing to fulfilling principle four.
Containing seven beautifully told and illustrated Indigenous stories by Indigenous authors and illustrators, the collection is perfect for promoting a greater understanding and awareness of Australia’s First Nations cultures and peoples.
Included in the collection is a book which illustrates Archie Roach AM’s deeply personal song, ‘Took the Children Away’. This song was the first song ever to receive a prestigious Australian Human Rights Award, and speaks about love and connection, as well as telling the story of Australia’s shameful past practices of removing children from their families.
Dolls to showcase diversity
Moving to resources which can be included in the learning environments of children to promote diversity and understanding, MTA has selected the Cultural Doll Set, a collection of non-standing dolls which represent countries such as Japan, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Ghana and Kenya.
Each of the soft dolls is 11 cm long, and the inclusion of the dolls in children’s learning spaces can support children’s dramatic role play and storytelling, and can contribute to the meaningful representation of a number of cultures in the learning community.
In some services, the ethical sourcing and construction of learning resources for children forms a core aspect of their philosophy and practice. To support these services, MTA recommends this collection of dolls, the Fair Trade Syrian Family, a collection of five stylised dolls made under Fair Trade conditions.
The set features soft bodied block play dolls made by hand from cotton. Because of the hand made construction of these pieces, suitable for children from three years of age onward, colour and design may vary.
For those services who prefer a more open ended resource which allows children to imprint their own expressions and clothing designs into their imaginative play, whilst still supporting diversity, the collection of Peg People of the World will be a resource of interest.
The peg people set, which includes 10 pieces, is suitable for use by children aged from 12 months, and introduces different shades and skin tones through an open ended wooden resource, designed to complement the natural aesthetic of many ECEC learning environments.
Rounding out the dolls showcased in this collection is the Multicultural Doll Kit, a collection of seven 45 cm tall dolls representing a variety of nations including China, Tibet, Pakistan and Japan. The dolls in this collection are handmade, meaning each collection is a unique combination of cultures, colours and design.
Suitable for use by children from three years of age onward, the dolls are perfect for combining with block play, storytelling, dramatic role play and much more, allowing children to explore some of the world’s many cultures.
Celebrating diversity and promoting inclusion with art and craft materials
As well as surrounding children with play opportunities through the careful selection of considered diversity resources, it is important to consider how diversity is showcased in the materials made available for children.
Are all children, for example, able to pick up a pencil and draw a face with colours which represent their skin tone? Do the children have the opportunity to paint with colours which are diverse and represent themselves and their families? Is there an opportunity for children to work with dough which mimics a variety of skin tones?
The Sargent Art Multicultural Coloured Pencils collection, which is sold as a pack of eight, invites children to experiment with colours such as peach, maize, red, mahogany, light brown, brown, dark brown, and black to blend a mixture of colours which represents the skin tones they are trying to create.
Likewise the Super Tempera People Paint Set, a collection of six bottles of non-toxic, water soluble paint, is ideal for working with children who wish to explore and evoke skin tones in their artworks. Set colours include clove, spice, savannah, cloud, sahara and alabaster.
Finally the Creatistics Skin Tone Dough, which comes in a range of colours in a convenient 900g tub, allows children to create fun 3D designs in a way which is respectful of the rich diversity of their everyday worlds.
Children can use the dough to blend a range of colours for their desired effect and to use in their art, with dough tools to create impressions, or to cut into designs.
For more information on the wide range of MTA products available, please contact your local consultant, or reach out to MTA by phone 1800 251 497 or email [email protected]