Children begin to notice differences like skin color and hair texture around the age of two, which means it’s important to start teaching your little ones about diversity and tolerance early. However, it can be difficult to expose your children to other cultures if you live in a homogenous or isolated community. Here are four ways to encourage diversity and tolerance in your children’s lives whether you live in a big city, a small suburb or the middle of nowhere.
Engage in Culturally Diverse Media
Books, movies, and shows are a great way for your child to explore other cultures from the comfort of your couch. Media from all over the world is now accessible thanks to the internet, so take advantage. If your child is a good reader, consider showing television programs and movies in different languages with subtitles.
Talk About Other Cultures and Religions
Young children learn most effectively from their parents, so start a dialogue early about diversity and culture. Have casual conversations about different cultural practices, holidays and religions. Try pointing out churches, synagogues, mosques and other religious buildings when you’re driving with your children and discuss the different religions practiced there.
Raise Your Child Bilingual
There is no better way to introduce your child to another culture than teaching them a second language. Language opens the door to other cultures and societies by letting you get to know them in their own words. Consider enrolling your child in a bilingual early childhood center where they can be fully immersed in the language and interact with native speakers. Growing up bilingual may also give kids an advantage in other areas like math and music.
Participate in Cultural Activities
Whether you choose a pow-wow, soul food cook-off, religious service or a ballet performance, attending cultural activities with your child is an excellent way to broaden their horizons. While watching videos and reading books about other cultures is a great way to introduce them, nothing beats experiencing it for yourself. If your family travels for vacations, consider choosing locations where your child can experience unique cultural activities that he or she can’t access at home.
When teaching your child about diverse cultures, don’t forget that your own is important too. Take your children to your own cultural events, share recipes and stories from your ancestors and talk to them about your family traditions. You can also encourage them to share their culture and traditions with their friends and classmates at school.