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Diversity in Early Years through representation.

When we are designing our classrooms and topics, it's important that we look through several lenses.


First, looking through the lens of every child. Do they see themselves in your classroom, in the books, in the toys etc? All children regardless of race, sex, gender, disability and religion etc should see role models in their education.

Secondly, in areas where there isn't much diversity, are we showing them what the world actually looks like and celebrating the diverse world that we live in?


A common mistake is to assume that to introduce young children to diversity, that we need to teach about other countries and things outside of the child's immediate context. However, as we know learning requires building on existing knowledge and paradigms, we should be looking at diversity and representation within their immediate context first. If a year 1 child, for example, does not understand their own locality and country, how are they supposed to understand life in China or South America? The risk of this work is that we introduce misconceptions and stereotypes, or that the children do not retain the knowledge as they have nothing to 'hook' it on to. At this age, diversity and inclusion can be done in a very passive way, by exposing the children to different protected characteristics in their immediate environment and through topics that are meaningful to their own lives. We can then move onto learning about diversity in their own locality and country. Only once they have made these connections, and expanded their knowledge of the world can they truly understand the diversity of other countries. When planning the curriculum, consider the journey of concepts that they go on so that knowledge is built and it goes from the child outwards. To find more about how schools are addressing changes in our world, I suggest reading Thrive: The Purpose of Schools in a Changing World by Valerie Hannon.


The go-to resource for improving representation is generally books, which are absolutely vital, and I've covered ideas for these books in other posts. But here's some different resources to make your Foundation Phase classroom more inclusive. If you have any more that you love, please let me know and I can include them!


Wooden Small World Diversity Multicultural Family

What's an early years classroom without a small world area?


These dolls show a variety of skin colours and religions.


Price: £52.99 ex VAT

Available from: TTS


Buy here





Block People Small World Figures

A beautifully designed set of small world figures with a range of diversities and visible disabilities.


Price: £29.99 ex VAT

Available from: Consortium


Buy here


Mirrors

Thank you to Cat Place from Jubilee Park School who showed me the power of using mirrors in the Foundation Phase classroom. It's fascinating to see children look in the mirror to see who they are, what they look like and how we are all unique.


Price: £7.99 inc VAT

Available from: TickIT


Buy here



Photographic Modern Families Puzzles 8pk

These puzzles are an excellent way of starting a discussion about different family types whilst also developing the skills that come from jigsaws. Showing families of all shapes and sizes, they reflect the modern world that we live in.


Price: £29.99 ex VAT

Available from: TTS


Buy here




Children of Our Community Cultural Diversity Dolls


This range of dolls allows you to choose dolls that are needed to improve the diversity of your classroom resources. Whether you choose Sonny, Jasmine or Max, these washable dolls will be loved in your classroom.


Price: From £24.99 ex VAT

Available from: TTS


Buy here




Skin Tones Coloured Pencils

Children should be able to create drawings that accurately represent their own skin colour, or that of people around them. Beloved by children in schools across the UK, these colouring pencils allow children to draw and colour in a wide range of skin-tones.


Price: From £24.99 ex VAT

Available from: TTS


Buy here



Multicultural hand puppets

These wonderfully diverse hand puppets come in a set of 8 and can be used in role-play, storytelling and throughout the curriculum.


Price: £37.99 ex VAT

Available from: Hope


Buy here






 

Of course, these resources are just one part of creating an inclusive classroom. Diversity and inclusion should come through in all of our topics, through the images we show, the books we use and the lessons we plan. We should avoid enforcing stereotypes, even with Early Years children, so that we build an ethos of acceptance and inclusion.



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