Multicultural principles for early childhood leaders

May 3, 2022

Head Start published these Multicultural Principles back in 1991. They have since been updated and continue to provide research based guidance to Head Start programs around the nation. They are also relevant principles that can be applied to other Neighborhood House service areas and approaches. You can find these principles and many other resources on the Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center.

Head Start programs are effective when their systems and services support the cultural diversity of enrolled families. Furthermore, individual staff members must be able to demonstrate their respect for and respond to the different cultures in their community and among their co-workers. The following resource provides recent research and perspectives on key multicultural principles and offers guidance to staff on how to implement these principles in their programs.

Culture is a fundamental feature of Head Start program systems and services. Revisiting and Updating the Multicultural Principles for Head Start Programs Serving Children Ages Birth to Five updates the information and research presented in Head Start’s original Multicultural Principles handbook published in 1991. This resource is divided into 10 chapters and each chapter presents one multicultural principle, the research and guidance to support that principle, and questions and/or discussion activities.

Principle 1: Every individual is rooted in culture.

Principle 2: The cultural groups represented in the communities and families of each Head Start program are the primary sources for culturally relevant programming.

Principle 3: Culturally relevant and diverse programming requires learning accurate information about the cultures of different groups and discarding stereotypes.

Principle 4: Addressing cultural relevance in making curriculum choices and adaptations is a necessary, developmentally appropriate practice.

Principle 5: Every individual has the right to maintain his or her own identity while acquiring the skills required to function in our diverse society.

Principle 6: Effective programs for children who speak languages other than English require continued development of the first language while the acquisition of English is facilitated.

Principle 7: Culturally relevant programming requires staff who both reflect and are responsive to the community and families served.

Principle 8: Multicultural programming for children enables children to develop an awareness of, respect for, and appreciation of individual and cultural differences.

Principle 9: Culturally relevant and diverse programming examines and challenges institutional and personal biases.

Principle 10: Culturally relevant and diverse programming and practices are incorporated in all systems and services and are beneficial to all adults and children.

Learn more about the importance of developing a culturally and linguistically responsive Head Start program.