Culture and diversity in elementary schools can affect students in a variety of ways. In an ideal society, all children would feel accepted for who they are, no matter their race, ethnicity, gender, age, economic status, religious beliefs or physical abilities. The reality is that there will be times when a child feels like he or she doesn't fit in or is discriminated against.
Varied Ideas of Appropriate Behavior
Uniformity in a classroom comes at a disadvantage to students whose culture teaches them behaviors or beliefs that are different from traditional norms taught in school. For example, some students may have been taught to be very social when they need to be more quiet and work independently in the classroom.
Diverse Learning Styles
Every student learns in a different way, such as visually, auditorily and kinesthetically. Students who are not given enough opportunities to learn in a way best suited to their style may be left frustrated and not able to understand or keep up.
Students often form cliques, or groups, among their peers, making some students feel like they don’t fit in or aren’t welcome. Students may be left to feel like they do not have friends, which can make them sad or stressed.
If students feel they are compared academically with their classmates, they may feel either discouraged if they are behind or may become prideful if they are ahead. Rather, a student should feel like an equal part of the group and be allowed to learn at his or her own rate.
Students who don’t feel accepted by their teacher or classmates may resort to becoming withdrawn or bullying to get attention. Students who feel labeled by their gender, race or ethnicity may be prone to either act out or become withdrawn.
There are many ways a teacher and other students can encourage acceptance among classmates, regardless of the cultural differences. In many ways, diversity in the school setting will open the eyes of students to new ways of thinking and acting.
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