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Early childhood care and education (ECCE) settings in Ireland have become increasingly multicultural. While policy documents and curricular guidelines for ECCE in Ireland emphasize the importance of addressing diversity and equality issues, implementation of culturally relevant practices may vary according to practitioners‟ skills, knowledge, perspectives and previous experiences with cultural diversity. The purpose of the study was to represent variety of perspectives that practitioners might hold regarding cultural diversity in ECCE. It represents an exploratory study of four practitioners‟ perspectives and experiences of cultural diversity in two multicultural ECCE settings in Dublin, Ireland. Phenomenological methodology was applied to the study to generate rich data on various issues related to the research questions. In-depth interviews and observations were chosen as methods for data collection. The findings of the study suggest that practitioners hold variety of perspectives on cultural diversity, its relevance to ECCE and young children‟s lives and appropriate activities for exploring culture related topics with children. Practitioners identified language related issues as the key challenge when working in culturally diverse ECCE communities. They critically approached available multicultural resources, but did not feel confident to bring forth change. Overall, evidence from this small scale study suggests that practitioners value cultural diversity and in general terms most of them acknowledge importance of addressing culture related issues in early childhood; however they might lack confidence, skills and knowledge to address issues in everyday practice and engage in an open dialogue with families. These findings have implications for policy and professional education programs regarding the needs to be addressed in pre and in service training programs for practitioners.
Janelidze, A. (2014) Experiences and perspectives of practitioners in culturally diverse early childhood education and care centres in Ireland. Masters Dissertation, Dublin Institute of Technology, 2014.