The Education of Multicultural Kids | Multicultural Education
We are an intercultural family that involves members belonging to different nationalities and races; We are an interracial family with two beautiful daughters.
The best part about being a multicultural family is that we have more experience living in different countries. We grow knowledge and perspectives through cultural experiences and learn to see things in a global context.
A global mindset is essential in our family culture.
So how do I define the size of the “globe”?
It depends on the kids, but it’s vital for us as parents to help them develop the eyes to perceive the world and the attitude to respect the difference. Therefore, we decided to take on the multicultural education system.
We truly believed that this approach could help our children to develop the depth and the width of the experiences they face in the future. A kid’s mind should be free enough to create the size of his/her own world.
What is Multicultural Education?
Multicultural education is a teaching and learning philosophy.
The basic principle of multicultural education is the teaching methodology incorporating the teacher’s experience and student culture. The teacher who embraces multiculturalism will be more mindful of the student’s cultural background and tend to engage by supporting their differences.
In a multicultural school, kids’ lifestyles in which will encounter people from different cultural backgrounds.
Becoming multilingual is an essential quality.
The main advantage is that a multicultural education prepares kids to be much more fully knowledgeable about living with people who are different than they are. Furthermore, it also emphasizes accepting cultural differences. Multicultural education is more than the race!
I speak Mandarin, my partner speaks Portuguese, and English is our mutual language. Naturally, English is also our multilingual children’s primary language. However, as we are living in Spain, our community languages are Spanish and Catalan. In other words, my children are exposed to English, Mandarin, Portuguese, Spanish and Catalan daily.
We decided to focus on English and Spanish in school, mainly because we speak English as a family, and kids need Spanish for a local surviving skill. As for third or more languages, we will continue to teach them from home or implement it with the school in the future.
The cultural diversity and the population of multinational teachers are essential in multicultural education. Children spend more awake hours in school than they do at home. Our goal is to find a school or classroom that can help them to “fit in.” As time grows and they start to feel more comfortable. Kids can develop a sense of security to feeling “belong” to this place eventually.
The cost of a school can range from free to a thousand Euro per month. Before moving to Spain, we did the same calculation on our education budget.
The same style of education we would like to provide to our multicultural kids will cost more than double in Taipei than Spain. Overall, the cost of living in Taipei is higher than in Barcelona.
Yes! We took a big shot and moved to Spain!
When we moved to Spain, we settled in an Airbnb apartment first, and we only had six weeks to search for a long-term apartment rental to settle down, applied for household registration, Spanish ID and residency, visit school, and created bank accounts… Every step has its own order! Ok, that’s another story for the future! So thankfully, every mission accomplished, and we were able to find an apartment close to our targeted school.
Picking and dropping children every day can be time-consuming. If you are choosing a state school or taking public transportation, location matters! This is a critical logistics to handle daily life.
After we have decided on the multicultural education system, we moved ahead to select a school. Here are a few questions that we considered:
1. Is it a safe environment?
For example: How do schools handle bullying or sexual harassment situations?
2. What is a typical class program?
The design of the courses should be balanced and focus on the languages, math, social, and motor skills for the first few years of kids’ education.
3. How much outdoor time per day?
Class programs should be balanced between outdoor and indoor time as well.
4. How many languages and nationalities are involved in the classroom from teachers?
Multicultural education includes learning a minimum of two languages at the same time.
One People One Language (OPOL) is a common technique that the school uses for a bilingual environment; with that say, a multicultural classroom for little kids should have more than two teachers from different nationalities.
In our case, kids’ school is using English and Spanish. By Catalonia law, one hour Catalan class per week after three years old. If we wish to add mandarin or other languages, that will be after five years old.
5. What is the student-teacher ratio?
Especially for little kids, most parents probably have the same concern. We believe that our kids will enjoy a small class size, and as parents, we also feel more comfortable that the teachers can give more flexibility and attention to teach the way they want. Unfortunately, the low ratio comes at a price!
6. What are the after school activities available?
Our kids are still young, and there is only one activity that we feel the need to be part of the education program now is swimming!
But going forward, music, art, sports, a wide variety of activities are essential.
7. How much should we expect from the homework assignment and exam?
We do not want any exams at least before primary education, very straightforward. As for the homework assignment, we try to find an educational methodology that focuses on “self-management.”
In our case, the school assigned simple homework once a week. For example, the Fall is here and let’s pick up an orange leaf! Your children should find 15 minutes within a week to complete the assignment.
8. Growing opportunity?
We searched for a school that offers global exposure such as exchange students or celebrating the international day at school.
Finally, things like catering, school bus, and tuition are vital to speak to the school. However, one of the main reasons that we have chosen our children’s school was because of the teachers!
We could not emphasize enough the relationship between parents and the teachers are the most crucial factor. Throughout the process, we were like every parent, did not take the decision lightly, and we have asked multiple questions in and outside of school. In return, the school spent enormous time and effort to put us through to talk with the right teacher and references. We felt comfortable leaving our children in that environment.
Overall, the key element we are searching for, other than a multicultural education, is really looking for a school that is willing to pay strict guidance and build a strong structure to lead their students with love and support.