Cultivating a Harmonious Classroom
For their IPC units in Term 2, Astor students in the upper primary classes focused on the topic of "Different Places, Similar Lives." Through this unit, students learn about the similarities and differences between how people lead their lives around the world. They learnt how to become global ambassadors!
In the classroom and at home, it is vital for children to understand values like racial harmony and respect. Being in Singapore, we live in a multicultural society. Thus, children should learn about respecting differences between ethnicities and being sensitive towards people who are culturally different from them.
During our IPC lesson in the Year 4 class, we discussed ways we can be inclusive to all students around us. We ensured that we had a safe space for the class to learn and converse respectfully, listen actively, and develop acceptance, openness and respect for multiple perspectives. Students had the opportunity to look at certain scenarios and role-play the right way to respond in situations. They learnt the importance of speaking sensitively and using kindness.
Another way we practised and reinforced these values beyond the classroom was through our field trip. Students from the Year 4, 5, 6 and 7 classes participated in a learning journey to Kampong Glam. They visited cultural and heritage sites and even learnt about the celebration of cultural festivals. Students had the opportunity to appreciate the strong culture radiating from the past to the present in Kampong Glam.
Here are some ways you can encourage the importance of racial harmony at home:
1. Trying food from different cultures
Singapore is known as the little red dot that is filled with food from all over the world. It is easy to introduce and explore different cultures through food with children here. You could even cook up a meal with the kids from another culture! Lots of us have neighbours and friends from different cultures, and they would probably love to teach you a dish from their cuisine. Through these activities, we can learn the history behind the dishes!
2. Learn greetings in different languages
Learning a greeting as simple as ‘hello!’ in a different language is a fun and easy way to introduce kids to various ethnicities around the world. It is also a great way to break the ice with someone from another culture! You could even use this opportunity to learn more words in that language like ‘How are you?’ or ‘Good morning!’.
3. Plan an outing to a heritage centre
In Singapore, there are several heritage centres that commemorate racial harmony. There is the Indian Heritage Centre, Malay Heritage Centre, Chinese Heritage Centre, Eurasian Heritage Gallery and many more.
4. Racial Harmony-themed storytime
Reading books with children is a wonderful opportunity to incorporate a lesson on racial harmony, especially for younger children. Some examples of books that celebrate and respect differences are:
Is That Rainbowsaurus So Different From Us by Emily Lim
Kids On Earth by Sensei Paul David
Sharing a Smile by Nicki Kramar
That’s My Friend by Vad Lee
5. Watching Documentaries and foreign films
Foreign films and documentaries are great visual resources too. You could choose a foreign film as a Sunday movie night or even watch it in the cinema!
Kid World Citizen gives us a list of wonderful movies that are age-appropriate - https://kidworldcitizen.org/best-movies-for-kids-from-around-the-world-plus-lesson-plans/
Additionally, Roots Singapore is a great YouTube channel that shares short videos and films about the different cultures and histories in our country and around the world! https://www.youtube.com/c/HeritageTV/videos
Racial harmony can begin at home! Showing and teaching children how to be interested in various heritages and cultures can be a great way to begin.