The world is a melting pot. There are so many different types of people, and it’s important that our children know this. There are people with different religions, ethnicities, and cultural backgrounds, and children are not always exposed to these different ways of life. It is so great to learn about different cultures and teach your children about them. But if you aren’t married or related to someone from another background, you can still teach your children about the wonderful differences between all of us.
Interact with diverse friends
You can’t always choose who your children become friends with, but if you do have the chance for them to play with kids from other cultures, take advantage. The best way to learn about someone is to spend time with them.Even if your child plays with kids of the opposite sex, this is a wonderful place to start. And of course, if you have friends from different backgrounds, you can set an example by spending time with them in the presence of your children.
Buy toys that promote diversity
Many little ones like playing with dolls, and most often, the dolls that they get are ones that look just like them. But a better idea is to get your child one that looks completely different. Different hair color, different color skin, different eye color, it doesn’t really matter, as long as the doll is different. Showing your child that it’s awesome to embrace a doll with different features will teach your child to love real people who are also different.
Volunteer as a family
Pick a cause to which you and your family feel particularly drawn. It could be taking care of a park, your local library, a museum — any number of organizations need your help to keep the lights on. Volunteering cultivates communication and social skills, and fuels individuals with purpose. It just feels good to help others, and that’s a powerful gift to give our children. Let’s teach our children to cherish and treasure the world’s beautiful, numerous cultures. Show them that we’re not a monoculture, devoid of magnificence and biodiversity. By introducing your kids to a variety of perspectives and experiences, the world will emerge in vast and vibrant ways, rich with stories, songs, cuisine, art and so much more.
Host a festive evening
Once a month, get the family involved in an immersion experience at home. Incorporate music, expand your culinary horizons and explore cultural fables. Ask that everyone share something they know or want to know about the featured culture. To get you brainstorming, imagine a Russian-themed evening of your own. You could have an uzhin (Russian for “dinner”) of borscht, a bright vegetable soup made of red beets, and piroshki, baked buns filled with a variety of vegetables and sometimes egg or meat. Recipes for both dishes are easy to find online. While you’re hard at work in the kitchen, turn up Sergei Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” or any of Tchaikovsky’s compositions. Over dessert, share classic Russian folktales.
The most powerful role model
While all of the activities listed above have been found to promote cultural awareness and respect, no activity is as powerful as the role model of a child’s parent(s). Children become culturally sensitive and respectful when they see adults who are culturally sensitive and respectful, and who take a stand against bias, racism or insensitivity. Lastly, it is important for adults to take a “strengths based” perspective when talking with children about those who are different from the child. This perspective focuses on the positive characteristics of a person and her abilities, what that person is able to do or does (as compared to what he cannot) and how differences make our world a better place. By helping your child understand and respect similarities and differences, you will help him realize he is a wonderfully unique person among many other wonderfully unique people on this earth.
When children learn about a culture different from their own, a world of possibilities opens up. New sounds, language, dress, cuisine, songs and stories — all arouse curiosity and inspire exploration. Even more importantly, learning about a new culture cultivates an enthusiasm for understanding and appreciating diverse ways of living, facilitating positive regard and sharing an implicit message: Our differences are valuable and honorable.
Posts written by the Team ELM family!