10 Ways to Teach Your Children Cultural Diversity
Have you ever gone to a public place with a toddler and suddenly they become frightened because people look different than your family does? Some people might have an accent or celebrate different holidays. Here are 10 ways to teach your children about cultural diversity. This is a great time in your children’s lives to be able to comfortably introduce your kids to different cultures. This is the time that our country has so many different ethnic groups that are present in our society, giving many families new opportunities to learn about different cultures without having to travel around the world.
Grade school children are now able to understand cultural and racial differences. They can learn how to understand and appreciate the difference that others make that are different from their own family traditions. They are able to accept children with physical disabilities and new friends that come to their schools from other parts of the world.
Think about your cultural beliefs
The best way to teach your children about cultural diversity is by setting an example of your own beliefs. You are the role model that your children will model and in order to teach them about different cultures, parents have to think hard about their beliefs. You want to show your children the different ways that people live. Don’t be judgmental or you will be biased, so if you find you are prejudiced in any way, you need to either put that feeling away or figure it out so your child will be able to meet new people and learn new experiences from different cultures.
Every house should have a globe or a world map
The best place to start is by having a globe or a world map in your home. This is very exciting for children to learn about the different continents, countries and even the 50 states in their own country. You can teach them about the different climates in the world and the different animals that are in various parts of the world including their own country. When something happens on the news you can show your children where the country is. If a great discovery was made or a great tragedy occurred your children will know what part of the world this happened in. Sometimes these things happen in our own country and you can show your kids the state the news happened in. This is a good way to start a family discussion and have some good bonding and learning time.
Try Ethnic Foods
You can take your children out to try different foods at ethnic restaurants. Most restaurants that are ethnic have a reasonable menu so maybe one night your family can sample Indian food, Middle Eastern Cuisine, Italian, Mexican etc. You might not want to go too spicy but many have buffets where you are sure to find something your children will like to try. You could also try and prepare some of this food at home and cook together. Making a homemade pizza is relatively easy and you can make the crust from scratch and add what ingredients your children like.
When your child has a question about the different ways people look or different cultural practices, be open. You are teaching your child that it’s common to notice differences in people and also it’s important that they ask questions if they are curious. It’s important and refreshing to appreciate the many differences including racial, cultural, socioeconomic levels, genders and different types of human disabilities in our society today.
Read Books on Race, Culture, and Disability
There are many good books out that are based on race, culture and different disabilities that are stories for children. These books can be found online that are written by different authors about various diverse cultures and how children interact and become lifelong friends. There are also some great books on having friends with disabilities. You can always ask a teacher or go to a public library to get different books on different cultures and disabilities.
Decorate by studying different cultures and traditions around the holidays
If you choose to decorate your home for the holidays, you can choose to look at what various cultures do for inspiration. You could try filling a pinata with candy for Christmas or let your kids paint a different country’s flag or make colored ornaments and let the kids put them on the tree. See if your kids have any ideas by brainstorming because this enables them to try using research from different parts of the world so they can understand how others celebrate Christmas.
See if you can find a pen pal for your child from another country. Your child can write or email the child. Kids can start to build a relationship with these kids from other countries and this helps them become more globally connected. If you are having problems, you can try something called “Kid World Citizen”, which helps to find some penpals from other countries.
Many communities have free or low cost diversified cultural events that can be held at a park or inside a school or church. Look at your area’s local newspaper to find healthy outings for kids including different religious events, festivals that are based on different cultures, art from other countries and many more activities. Milwaukee, Wisconsin has a different cultural event from different countries that start every weekend in summer at the Summerfest grounds. Summerfest is an exception but people from other countries come to see and attend Summerfest, while people from all over come and attend Irishfest, Italianfest, Native American Fest, African American fest, Germanfest and many more. You can find the lineup of events online. The festivals start around the end of June and some days all that is required is a can or box of nonperishable food for the poor to gain entrance. That’s a real deal plus a great learning experience. The Summerfest grounds are located next to Lake Michigan so the walkways, benches, and rocks are a nice place to sit and cool off. In addition, you and your kids can try all that ethnic food.
Introduce movies from far away places
It’s great to sit with your family and watch movies that talk about different places and cultures. This too helps your child become more globally in tune. There are a few good Disney movies available like Dumbo, Aladdin, The Jungle Book, and the Smithsonian channel is also a good channel to watch. Disney flicks are kid friendly and help them understand at a young age about different cultures.
Stand up for Cultural Diversity
Don’t show any tolerance for racism or insensitive cultural jokes if you want to teach your children not to be prejudice. If someone tells a joke they think is funny in front of your children, walk away and tell your child you were not in agreement with that joke. Your children need to understand that no matter where they are or what they do, all people are the same. All people are created equal with emotions, dreams and the same dreams for democracy. It’s good to start young so they grow up without being prejudice and end up being great and open-minded people.