Diversity at Gretchen’s House
A recently posted question about diversity at Gretchen’s House made us realize that our commitment to diversity is so ingrained, we haven’t highlighted it as something remarkable. This commitment is part of our approach to everything we do! However, newcomers to Gretchen’s House will probably appreciate a special introduction to this aspect of our programs and philosophy.
Gretchen’s House strives to be an inclusive and diverse environment. We believe that diversity is not limited to skin color or ethnicity…socioeconomic status is a less visible but equally important aspect of personality, values, and traditions. “Diversity” also describes differing physical and cognitive abilities as well as non-traditional gender roles. A diverse classroom reflects children’s home culture and experiences, while providing a window into other cultures, backgrounds, and abilities through shared, developmentally appropriate experiences.
We believe the most important thing any adult can do to promote diversity is to maintain an attitude of respect and openness with all people. Our curriculum approach and program philosophy are based on mutual respect between children, parents and teachers and we emphasize universal values such as responsibility, kindness, and care for the environment. We avoid the “tourist” approach to diversity, because that view often relies on stereotypes and gives children a false, often inaccurate view of another culture. In other words, you won’t see us doing “Mexico week” in our programs. You will see art and materials from many cultures in our classrooms.
It is impossible to list every single thing that we do to encourage diversity, but here are a few concrete examples:
- Our Teacher Support Coordinator provides resources to parents and teachers, as well as materials or adaptive equipment for children with special needs who are enrolled in our program.
- We partner with Champions for Children and Child Care Network to ensure that children with special needs and families receiving tuition assistance from the state or private scholarships can participate in high-quality, traditional preschool programs.
- We provide parent materials in several languages and match new ESL families with existing families who speak their native tongue to facilitate communication. When non-English speaking children join our programs, teachers and children learn basic words in their native languages to help the new children feel comfortable as they learn English. We also have language classes at several of our centers.
- We invite families to share their home traditions, habits, celebrations, and foods at the centers, not just for special occasions, but every single day.
- Our child enrollment forms designate “parent/legal guardian” rather than mother/father. This helps all new families feel recognized and welcome.
Thank you to the original poster who asked about diversity at Gretchen’s House, and thanks to all our families for enriching our programs with your cultures.