Why 'Around the World Play' Month?

If you were familiar with Playgroup Queensland’s monthly themes you might have noticed that ‘Around the World Play’ is a new theme announced as part of the rebrand as Play Matters Australia.

Inspired by the success of our Play Your Way Around the World Playgroup in Rockhampton, September is dedicated to enhancing children’s appreciation of the different ways of knowing, seeing, and living. It also acts as a reminder for families to discuss cultural and ethnic diversity with children from a young age.

Diverse group of families at Mt Isa Playgroup

A study by the American Psychological Association found that most adults believed children should be school-aged before discussing ethnicity with them. However, research suggests that children are aware of racial differences and even have the capacity to hold racist beliefs long before they start school.

As newborns, infants demonstrate a preference for their mother’s face, over a stranger’s face. Within the first 3 months of life, babies learn to discriminate between faces from different ethnic groups, displaying a preference for their own group. This was demonstrated in a study where 3-month-old Caucasian babies spontaneously preferred Caucasian over other-race faces, measured by their visual attention to a series of photographs. Researchers suggest that this observation represents “the perceptual beginnings of categorization based on ethnic differences which may provide a basis for the other-race effect.”

The other-race effect is a common limitation whereby people are better at distinguishing between faces of their own race, compared to those of other races which they often believe “all look the same”. Interestingly, recent research has found that while this bias appears early in life, it can also be prevented by regular interaction with people of other ethnicities within a child’s first year of life, or reduced later in life using the same method.

Culturally diverse children playing together

What is Cultural Competency?

The Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) recognises cultural competency as:

  • Being aware of one’s own world
  • Developing positive attitudes towards cultural differences
  • Gaining knowledge of different cultural practices and world views
  • Developing skills for communication and interaction across cultures

Around the World Play Month aims to support parents, carers, and educators to promote cultural competency in their children.

You can check out our Around the World Play Kit here and join in on our adventures around the world on Instagram.

Culturally diverse children playing together


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