The Pew research center published an article last year about diversity pointing out 10 important demographic trends last year. One of the statistics stood out for me. It said” By 2055, the U.S. will not have a single racial or ethnic majority.”
We are raising our children in increasingly diverse society with representations from so many different cultures. The electorate, the work force, our education system are all going to be impacted. We will see people around with different ways of speaking, dressing, eating, praying and living. It is a massive opportunity to learn about each other and grow. We will essentially witness a rainbow of cultures, but we have to be ready to open our windows and step outside. What are some things we can do to make diversity an important part of our households?
Festivals are important. Other than celebrating with our family and friends, we should raise awareness in our schools about each other’s festivals. For example, I realized fall is chock full of festivals from different cultures. It would be great to do a showcase of different cultures in school. Maybe a culture day to celebrate different festivals Rosh Hasanah, Diwali, Onam, Eid, Ashura, Thanksgiving to name a few. Check the calendar and stop by the school and see if you can talk to the classroom about your festival. Encourage other families from different ethnic groups to do the same.
Children are constantly looking at the books they read to form world opinions. Let’s give our children diverse material. There is no need to be pedantic about cultural topics. Sometimes simple books are the best conversation starters. If you have read ‘Last stop on Market Street’ by Matt De La Pena, you will know what I mean. The book teaches empathy and love in a way that is so easy and even fun for the children to understand. Ask your library to stock up with diverse books be it from your culture or other cultures you have been curious about.
Make an effort to build connections with families from different cultures. We are always comfortable with the familiar, but we learn and grow by exposing ourselves to the new. Call your neighbors over be it for Chai and samosas or Coffee and Cake. Arrange for playdates with children from different communities. Just stop by and say hello to that person who just moved here from a different country. Let your friendships expand.
What better way to learn about different ways of living than actually seeing and experiencing it. Travel far and travel wide. Make it a cultural learning experience. Observe the trees, the houses, the churches, the temples and talk about similarities and differences. Try different foods, speak to the local people. Let your child always be curious.
Learn more languages
Keep your mother tongue alive. If you are a multilingual household, speak to your child in different languages. Don’t worry, children’s minds are like little sponges. They will have no problems communicating using multiple languages. Teach numbers in different languages, use basic words for food, colors and slowly build up. I need serious effort on this one myself!
What other ideas do you have to teach diversity to your kids?
BOOKS BY SANDHYA ACHARYA