My husband and I have always loved the thrill of learning or experiencing something new. It holds a lot of value to us when we are exposed to the another cultures’ food, music, way of life, etc.

As parents, we want our children to know there’s more to life than what we see everyday. Some people have more than us, while others have much less. Some countries have holidays and customs that the U.S. doesn’t.

The best way to teach diversity to little kids is to show them how to love people who are different from themselves.

How to Teach Diversity: Skin

Teaching our children about diversity doesn’t look anything like teaching our children races and nationalities. It looks very much about the beauty and fun of things and people which our different from you and me.

One lesson we start with is very simple and yet I think it’s THE lesson every family should begin with. We look at all of the members in our household and we discuss the differences. We can see that some have freckles, some have bumps (keratosis pilaris) on their arms and legs, and no one in our family has the same tone of skin.

There is no crayon “called” skin color.

I believe scrutinizing the subtle differences, makes the bigger differences seem less. I believe that when my children can see the tiny details that make the bigger picture, there is more understanding and love. Each individual is on of God’s artworks: paintings, sculptures, and more. There is beauty in our differences.

Play With Others

This feels like a no brainer, but just in case. Now is the time to play with people who look different than you! If you live in a neighborhood or attend a school with less diversity, then travel somewhere. Let your kids play right along with all the kids at the playground.

How to Teach Diversity: Abilities

I’m so thankful for my time working at the Center for Autism Education. It’s the sole reason I earned my Special Education Degree. But it has also made me a better parent.

When my children see other kids that look different or use helping tools such as wheelchairs, special glasses, hearing aids, crutches, braces, etc. I can see their curiosity. Don’t be ashamed of their curiosity! It’s a good thing! You don’t typically have to worry about offending the child or their parents if you talk about their disability. Go ahead and ask some questions… with love.

We teach our children that people shouldn’t be considered “normal”. There are no normalities when it comes to human kind. While working in the classroom setting we would sometimes refer to children outside of the SpEd class as “typical kids”, but kids are just kids. Some can run fast and some are slow. Some kids can talk clearly while others mumble. Kids are just Kids.

Asking Questions

While walking into a soccer practice on morning my daughter noticed another dad did not have both hands. As he held the door for us she looked up at him and asked, “Why don’t you have a hand?” Her curiosity lead her to ask more questions with wonder and not with disgust. There lies the difference.

If your kiddo asks YOU what happened to someone else, you really shouldn’t answer like you know. A good suggestion is to go with your child to that person and ask them together. If you are concerned about your child hurting someone’s feelings then it’s a great opportunity for a teaching moment. Teach your child how to ask a question with wonder and love.

Play With Others

Then ask if that child would like to play, draw, or any form of interacting for at least 5 minutes.

How to Teach Diversity: Socioeconomics

Talking about people having more or less than you should not really be discussed as richer and poorer, in my opinion. There are plenty of people who look wealthy which are not, and there are plenty of people who look poorer than you, but are not. We, ourselves, try to live smaller than our means. The focus really shouldn’t be on money.

When we say things like, “Their family is focused on other things than {insert whatever it is your child asks}, we are focusing on the family’s decision and not on their wealth. Because we really don’t know their situation.

So ultimately, it’s best not to talk about this with your little kids, but maybe your older ones so long as it’s judgement free. For little kids, it is best to teach diversity in socioeconomics by again playing.

Play With Others

Many people tend to think that volunteering at Catholic Charities and food banks around town is the best way to teach and respect the differences, but I think that’s again best for older kids.

You know you’re child best, but playing with kids is the best way to teach this. Why? Because if you’re having fun with a friend, what does it matter if they’re homeless, or living paycheck to paycheck. Your child will just see another child to laugh with.

If my child serves the poor at a food bank, then does my child learn the lesson to “love thy neighbor”? or is there the possibility of our children feeling “better than”? This is just something to consider. I would hate to drive people away from charity works, because there is a beauty in serving others, but I believe there are lessons to be taught before a child is ready for something like that.

Give your kiddos the opportunity to play with other kids of all backgrounds, even if you have to drive somewhere else. Not even all public schools can attest to this diversity. It’s important for our kids to know that everyone is loved by God, and we too should have love for others.

How to Teach Diversity: Cultures

This is one of the more fun lessons. And teaching about other cultures around the world can also help with some of the above diversity lessons. Travel would be the greatest teacher of all, but it takes time, money, and a lot of planning. So for now, we start with food and music.

For Christmas last year Grandma and Grandpa gave our family a fun gift called Universal Yums. It was so much fun seeing that subscription box waiting for us on our front porch.

Since we started homeschooling we have hired a friend to teach our daughter Spanish. Her teacher comes with lessons on vocabulary, but also on the different countries that speak Spanish and some of their customs and religion.

The wonder of the World Wide Web (the internet for anyone younger than me) is the ability to look up recipes, which we have done numerous times, and it’s a great learning experience as well.

Show Your Children

Were you surprised I didn’t say “Play with Others”? Haha! Here I think the true gift of giving your child the love for other cultures is by your own example. We can get excited about seeing something new or tasting foods that are different.

Our oldest wanted to live in Japan all last year because she fell in love with the kimono. Then she watched Luna the Moon on PBS and saw the beautiful Cherry Blossoms. So I took her to eat sushi for lunch one afternoon.

She didn’t love it, but she didn’t hate it either. Pretty good for a 6 year old’s first try, I’d say. But we decided to bring that lesson home.

My husband and I were gifted a sushi kit and we bought the ingredients we needed to try it out at home. It was a fun day, as you can see in the pictures below. You can also see some of the reactions to eating sushi.

Talk, Talk, Talk

Keep the conversations flowing about God’s love for all people, even those considered as bad guys, and talk to people you meet at all the different places you go. We’ve learned a lot about others by just smiling and saying hello. Our kids are happy to tell anyone who will listen our life story! The cashier at the grocery store, or the other families at the park can give you a new perspective too.

Differences to Kids Can be as Simple as…

  • My mom stays home/ My dad stays home/ Both of my parents work.
  • You have an upstairs in your house but I don’t
  • I’m an only child/ I have one sibling/ I have a lot of brothers and sisters
  • You drive van and we drive car.
  • I go to this school and you go to another.
  • I’m in first grade and you’re in third. (It’s important for kids to be exposed to play among ages other than his/hers)
  • My parents live together and you have two houses.
  • My grandma lives far away and your grandma lives with you.

The list goes on and on, but diversity is more than just people looking different. Teach your child to love God’s people. No one knows what a little kindness can do for someone else.

Please Note!

This is just your initial set up to teaching these skills. There are more ways than what I have told you here. I am not an expert on this subject. I am a mother who has seen my children interact with the world around them, and I am proud of my children.

You can disagree with me and you can know that I’m okay with that. My goal is to share our journey to offer others some advice, but each family is different, and this may not work for you. Feel free to leave your own comments to give more suggestions. Just remember to spread LOVE.

Posted by:stmarthaslens

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