In any environment that brings people together — any organization, workplace or classroom — diversity, equity and inclusion should be prioritized for the benefit of all individuals and the group as a whole.
Though the terms are often used interchangeably, it is helpful for parents, caregivers and educators to understand what diversity, equity and inclusion mean and how each contributes to healthier learning environments.
Diversity — or differences among people — can be found in every classroom. This can include both visible and invisible forms of diversity, such as differences in gender, race, socioeconomic background, abilities and learning styles.
Of course, some classrooms are more diverse than others. But in every environment, it is important for adults to help guide children to celebrate what makes them unique and to embrace and respect others’ differences as well. It’s also essential for educators to understand how diversity should be supported in schools and classrooms through choices that prioritize equity and inclusion.
Equity refers to fair access, opportunities and treatment for each individual.
Diversity without equity does not make for a healthy learning environment. Educational programs and experiences can only be effective if children have equitable access to them, and if they’re treated fairly while they’re engaging in them.
Equity, in both policy and practice, is essential to creating environments where all children have the opportunities and resources they need to learn, grow and reach their full potential.
Inclusion occurs when each individual’s thoughts, ideas and perspectives are heard and valued.
Even in a learning environment that embraces diversity and provides equitable opportunities, it’s possible for some children to feel left out or to be overlooked. Every child needs to know that their perspective matters — and their classmates’ do too. Parents, caregivers and educators must nurture children’s confidence in speaking up and interacting with their classmates, and ensure that they demonstrate empathy and respect for their classmates’ ideas and efforts.
Ultimately, when consistent efforts are made to support diversity, equity and inclusion in their learning environments, children will benefit not only from accessing valuable opportunities to interact with and learn alongside their peers, but also from experiencing a sense of belonging in their classrooms.
To learn more about how you can encourage healthy perspectives, promote greater inclusivity in learning environments and guide the next generation of innovative leaders, we invite you to visit our blog.