Diversity is a central feature of Israeli society and as such we consider it vital to assist children, from kindergarten age onward, to feel comfortable with diversity, respect it and see the beauty in our differences. Merchavim believes that kindergartens and school classes are microcosms of society and that it is imperative to hone the ability to appreciate and respect the ‘other’ from an early age – the acquisition of tools for fair behavior, as early as kindergarten, is the basis for the development of the ability to live in a diverse society as adult citizens.
“Children who do not feel respected and appreciated or feel that their families and their culture are respected – who don’t feel that they fully belong to the kindergarten community – will not feel comfortable and will not be able to reach their potential even if candies are distributed evenly to all children during kindergarten parties”.
“A fair Kindergarten, is one in which every child, boy or girl, white or black, with a physical disability of healthy in body, native or immigrant, from all types of families – is respected as an individual and as belonging to these groups and others” (an excerpt from: Fairness is the name of the game, Mike Prashker ). Link to the article here.
“Let’s Play on Sesame Street” is a program that aims to broaden and deepen engagement on these issues, through activities in the kindergarten and activities continued in the children’s’ homes with their families. The program is offered in Hebrew and in Arabic.In the 2012 -2013 school year, 73 courses were held for over 1,548 kindergarten teachers working in State Secular Jewish /Arab kindergartens and religious State kindergartens. As part of the program a similar number of educational packages were distributed to additional kindergarten teachers, about 10,000 family kits were distributed and hundreds of kindergartens receiving copies of the ‘Fairness in Kindergartens’ Treaty’. The Fairness Treaty is first-time opportunity for children to learn the principals of fairness and experience community involvement.
"Let's Play on Sesame Street" – The Teacher’s Kit
“Let’s Play Street Sesame” is an education kit (available in Hebrew and Arabic ) focusing on shared citizenship designed for the kindergarten teachers. The kit was developed in cooperation with the Sesame Street project (Sesame Workshop) and the HOP television channel and approved by the Ministry of Education.
The kit includes ten sets of activities and DVD episodes of Sesame Street, which are presented by the kindergarten teachers and provide opportunities for the children to relate to expressions of non-acceptance that arise in the day to day life of the kindergarten. This activity is based on watching videos and is emphasized through play, creative activities and conversations to discuss matters such as: identities and diversity in the group, expanding the physical and social accessibility in the kindergarten, fairness and consensus in the kindergarten and more.