When I began teaching at Epiphany Lutheran Nursery School, a child walked up to me and asked “Mrs. Phillips why are you brown?” I smiled and replied ” because that’s how God made me.” As the year progressed I would have children inquire about my hair and rub my skin. This innocence was not insulting but refreshing. I realized that they were curious about the world and that included diversity. Diversity can be such a touchy subject. This is partly because we can be unsure about what to say or how to present information so that our children will understand. In my classroom, I strive to create a diverse environment. We celebrate other cultures in an informative way. I do this with multicultural books, activities, songs and celebrations. Here are a few ways you can share diversity with your children.
- We are all the same, we are all different. This is such an important statement. Our children need to know that at the core we are all the same on the inside. We each have hearts, feelings, lungs and tongues. However, we are all different and there is nothing wrong about that. One of my favorite books to drive this point home is called ” I Like Myself” by Karen Beaumont. This book encourages children to like who they are without feeling that they are better than others. This element is key when teaching diversity, since the aim is to see the beauty in others and their differences.
- Look it up. If you are unsure of what to say about diversity, look it up. The internet is brusting with diversity lessons, scripts for plays and other useful information. You can find what you are comfortable with and share it with your children.
- Diversify your library. When shopping for books, include ones about other places and cultures. These are great conversation starters. Show your child a world map and ask “Where would you like to learn about?” Go and check those books out of the library and create activities around them.
- Use the world around you. Teaching diversity can be an everyday thing. In my home we use environmental print ( the words or pictures in your environment) to learn about diversity. When I am in the grocery store we will travel down the international food aisle. We will talk about where certain food orginated. When driving in your car point out different restaurants and the cultures behind them. In my family it is tradition to pick a culture and make their cusine for Thanksgiving.
The possibilities are endless. Have fun teaching your children about diversity, I bet you will learn something as well!