The 2023 edition of Multicultural Principles for Early Childhood Leaders builds on growing research about how race, ethnicity, ability, gender, and socio-economic status influence young children’s learning. These influences can impact the practices, policies, and systems of early learning programs and the parent-child relationship.
In the 15 years since the last publication, research literature in child development, equity, and inclusion has grown significantly. This edition builds on the time-tested strength of the original principles, updating the language and organizational structure to support use the principles in daily practice.
An equity-focused mindset and culturally sustaining practices are integrated throughout the Multicultural Principles. An equity-focused mindset includes both an awareness of the historical and current injustices, discrimination, and barriers faced by disproportionately marginalized communities. It also requires a commitment to respond in ways that disrupt these inequities.
Organization and Action Categories
The Multicultural Principles for Early Childhood Leaders is organized into three action categories: Explore, Nurture, and Grow. These three actions describe what Head Start leaders and staff can do to ensure program services embrace and use the principles in everyday practice. The actions encourage:
- Learning from and about one another
- Building understanding and appreciation of the culture, traditions, and values of others
- Supporting inclusive and equitable practice
Each principle describes intercultural approaches that promote respect, understanding, and effective communication leading to meaningful and cooperative relationships. This moves us beyond the acknowledgement of diverse cultures to proactive practices.
How to Use This Resource
This resource reviews each principle and shares:
- Why current research and implications for practice matter
- Connections to Head Start Program Performance Standards
- Example indicators of the principles implemented in early childhood settings
- Practical strategies that support implementation of example indicators
- Voices from the Head Start community to present one or more examples of policies and practices from Head Start programs
- Supplemental materials to guide reflection, planning and implementation
The Multicultural Principles apply to all Head Start programs and program options, but they do not present a one-size-fits-all approach. Program leaders should use this resource in ways that are applicable for their own local community. The example indicators and practices are designed to prompt discussion and planning by program leaders and their staff. The Voices from the Head Start Community sections present specific examples of systems, policies, and services from actual programs. These examples do not represent all program options or all relevant practices.
Resource Type: Article
National Centers: Early Childhood Development, Teaching and Learning
Audience: Directors and Managers
Last Updated: February 20, 2024