How To Easily Teach Children About Diversity
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“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” — Maya Angelou
Here I will share some ways to teach children about diversity but first, a personal story.
I looked on while my hearing daughter, Coral (3 years old at the time) ran towards a girl a bit older than her at the playground. Coral motioned to the girl to come over and play. The girl understood her and started walking alongside her. She signed to the girl whilst the girl spoke to her.
They didn’t even notice the difference in the way they communicated because they understood each other. That signifies their acceptance of each other. They were able to have fun together regardless. For a couple of hours, they swung, went down the slide, squealed gleefully, and communicated in a way only they could understand.
Unfortunately, the story above is an occurrence that does not happen often. Oftentimes, Coral, whose first language was American Sign Language, was met with the stares and/or the kids not wanting to play alongside her. Simply because Coral communicated differently.
Now Coral is 5 years old, she uses her voice to communicate with people who can’t sign and sign with people who can.
What is Diversity?
The definition of diversity: The fact of many different types of things or people being included in something; a range of different things or people. – Cambridge Dictionary.
Definition of diversity for children:
Diversity means there are a lot of different kinds of things. Different makes of cars, flowers, trees, colors, animals, houses, and so on. There is diversity in people like different skin colors, hair colors and shades, eye colors, shapes of our bodies, and even the size of our faces.
Not just our appearances are different, we are also different in gender, language, culture, age, nationality, disability, religious beliefs, political views, sexual orientation, marital status, educational levels, and so on. Some people are different physically while others’ differences cannot be seen.
Why is diversity great?Simply put, everyone is different. We are humans with different thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Click To Tweet
No two persons are the same. Everyone has something to offer.
How interesting would it be to learn something new every day?!
I created a cool infographic to teach children about diversity! It was my very first one, so hopefully, I did a good job. Below the infographic, I will expand on each section of the infographic.
First of all, acceptance of others’ differences starts with you because as a parent, you are the most influential person in your child’s life.
Do you accept yourself? Do you model the behavior you want for your children? Do you show them that you love yourself and believe in your self-worth? Do you talk negatively about your or others’ differences? Do you generalize or put people in a category?
Accepting others starts with YOU. You cannot teach your children to embrace children different from them if you don’t. Use kind language and be kind in action. “Do as I say, but not as I do” will not teach your children acceptance.
It is up to you to be the leader to portray the differences in a positive way.
How you teach children about diversity shapes your child’s mind.
How to encourage your children to ask questions about others’ differences?
From the book, How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and How to Listen so Kids Will Talk (Click here to see the book on Amazon), the authors encourage adults to be effective listeners so your children would not feel like their questions, concerns, or feelings are ignored and not important.
How do you listen effectively? When your child talks, stop whatever you are doing and look him/her in the eye. Acknowledge his/her questions, concerns, or feelings. If you do that all the time, your children will feel comfortable coming to you about anything. They will know that you care about his/her questions, concerns, and feelings. It also shows them that it is ok to be curious and observable.
*There is also another book by the same authors (Click here for the book on Amazon) but is more geared toward age 2-7 that sounds interesting! It has a 5-star rating with many reviews, so I plan to purchase this one soon!*
Young children have curious minds and are automatically unbiased and free of prejudice. They ask questions about anything and everything. They may point out the differences loudly in public embarrassing you. However, don’t dismiss their inquisitiveness. Allow them to ask questions even if it makes you uncomfortable. If you do not know how to answer their observation, go find the answer together.
Do diversity activities with your children.
Seize everyday activities as teachable moments. Show them different kinds of things like flowers, birds, trees, dogs, cars, houses, and so on. Actively seek out museums, programs, events, stories, camps, and/or sports where diversity is present. Enjoy movies, books, music, and food from different places. Celebrate different cultures’ occasions. Ensure that your children have opportunities to spend time with people different from themselves.
Exposing them to different things will teach them that there is no ONE right way to live.
It shouldn’t be about learning how to simply coexist with others, it should be about embracing and learning the differences.
Lastly, value your own differences.
Embracing others’ differences doesn’t mean sacrificing your own heritage or beliefs. We can be proud and stand by those beliefs while continuing to value others’ differences. Teach your children about your family traditions. Encourage them to have a deep appreciation for their own differences.
I am proud of my deafness and wouldn’t want to change that for the world. I am confident in who I am. Sometimes children would stare and/or point at me when they notice my difference. I would pass them a smile and a wave. Curious children do not bother me at all. However, it bothers me when their parents won’t acknowledge their observation but try to shush their children.
Their children will come to the conclusion that my deafness is negative, something to be pitied or avoided. Please don’t quiet your child. I have encountered many adults who pitied my hearing loss, so encourage the next generation to accept and value deafness. Acknowledge your child’s observation. Seize the moment to explain deafness/hearing loss to your children. If you aren’t sure how to explain my difference, I wrote a post about explaining deafness/hearing loss to children.We can make the world much better and kinder by educating children an #acceptance of others and of themselves. #diversity Click To Tweet