Teaching Children to Appreciate Diverse Cultures
By Dan Gilbert and Submitted on behalf of Primrose Schools. Primrose provides a balanced learning curriculum for preschool children ensuring students build a foundation for success that will last the rest of their lives.
When you're five, "diversity" means something along the lines of finding a new cartoon, or visiting with that one relative who always seems to smell like mothballs. However, adults & parents know it's more than that. What they sometimes don't know is how to share this deeper meaning of diversity with their children. The good news is, you don't have to lose sleep coming up with "just the right way" to open up your child's mind to the diversity of the world around them. You can do it through sports, music, nature, and other cultures - the stuff they'll come in contact with on a daily basis. The fact is that neither they, nor their world, will stay small forever. With that in mind, here are some ideas to help you make your diversity talk easier.
Know Thyself (And a Few Other People)
Exploring your family history is a fantastic way to expose your child to the differences of the people who share the world with them. Family history will allow them to experience different times, cultures, and ideas within a framework and environment is already familiar to them. You can start by simply telling them a story about a relative that you always enjoyed hearing. Kids love stories, and will happily listen as you tell them a new one.
Crank Up the Tunes!
Music is one of the oldest and best ways to communicate, so why not take advantage of that fact with your children? Exposing them to culture and the wider world can be as simple as sharing music from your family's place of origin. Later, you can do the same thing, but in a more general sense (Classical from Europe, Jazz & Blues from the southern U.S., and so on). When you think they're ready, you can make a game of it by asking them to identify where a particular track is from, and the culture associated with it.
Under the cover of a book, that is. Reading with your child is an action of inestimable value. It literally can't be overstated how positive and important such an activity is. As far as teaching your children the value of diversity, here are a few suggestions for those looking for a reading list:
* It's OK To Be Different, by Todd Parr
* Children from Australia to Zimbabwe: A Photographic Journey Around the World, by Maya Ajmera & Anna Rhesa Versola
* The Crayon Box that Talked, by Shane Derolf
The books above will go a long way in teaching your children concepts like tolerance, open-mindedness, and an appreciation for the new and different.
Think Outside the Box
A level of routine is good, especially for young children, but sometimes, it can lead to stagnation. Make sure your child(ren) have ample opportunity to mingle with people different from themselves, whether it's at the playground, or meeting - or even being - a foreign student, or just going to museums or ethnic restaurants. Make sure your children know the significance of what's going on, and they'll thank you later.