In many ways, our world is becoming borderless, and it's important that children know that it's our unique backgrounds and worldviews that make us all beautiful. It can be daunting to know the best way to teach our little ones this but, fortunately, there are countless tools available to help us.
“The most influential of all educational factors is the conversation in a child’s home.” - William Temple
Opening Their Eyes, Minds and Hearts
Children are naturally curious about people who aren’t like them and we should encourage any questions that they may have. Keep the communication channels open and don’t be afraid to have honest dialogues with them.
By introducing our little ones to different races and cultures, we help to build their comfort levels and understanding of the multicultural world we live in. We can start by diversifying their bookshelves since books are a powerful tool for teaching our littles about different cultures. Reading inclusive books with our young ones will help them develop a vocabulary for things that are unfamiliar to them. One of our favourite books is “Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes,” by Mem Fox, which celebrates the ways that babies around the world are similar and different.
“Diversity is not about how we differ. Diversity is about embracing one another’s uniqueness.” - Ola Joseph
Toys and crafts can also be helpful aids for teaching young people about the many different cultural and religious traditions around the world, from Hannukah to Ramadan. We love printing out Crayola’s free colouring pages for this reason! Another great resource is CBC Kids, which hosts a Lunchbox Rap Battles series that covers everything from Rosh Hashanah to Black Canadian History! It’s a wonderful way to learn right along with your kids.
Celebrating Our Differences
Apart from skin colour, there are countless other ways that we might look, act, and sound differently from one another. Whether it’s the shape of someone’s body or the fact that they use a wheelchair, kids need to know that being different is what makes us all so special! The book “Bodies Are Cool” by Tyler Feder, does a wonderful job of illustrating and celebrating this notion.
“We need diverse representation not only so every kid can see themselves as the hero of the story, but so that every kid can understand that other kinds of kids are also the heroes of the story.” - Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg
If your children already have a diverse group of friends, that’s great! If not, choosing TV shows and movies with characters that represent diversity is a great way to encourage conversations with your kiddos. Tune into Sesame Street, which features Julia, a character with autism and Ji-Young, a new Korean-American character. Disney’s new movie, “Encanto,” is another great choice, since it centres on a Colombian family and has a wonderful message about being true to yourself.
Whatever you do, don’t be too hard on yourself. There are no rule books! The best thing we can do for our children is model the kind behaviour we want to see back from them and build brighter futures together.