We know diversity is good for children. Growing up in a bubble or a vacuum leaves your child at a serious disadvantage in relating to others and having empathy. Diversity helps expand your child's sense of awareness, comfort zone, and imagination. But what if you don't live in the inner city, or have the opportunity to travel to a foreign country with your family?
Don't worry, there are plenty of ways to bring more diversity into your child's life right at home. Check out these seven ideas to bring diversity of lifestyle, race, religion, opinion, taste, and experience into your child's life.
1. Read books about real people who live differently than you do. Eve Bunting's books are a great place to start, but there are literally hundreds and hundreds of excellent books. Go spend an afternoon browsing at the library and pick your favorites.
2. Listen to music from other cultures, genres, and styles. Putumayo is one of my favorites for world music, and it's family friendly.
3. Older children can learn about a different religion or belief system than your own, as pure research. Bonus points if you can attend a service/ceremony as a guest. I've used this reference with elementary children before for very basic facts presented in a non-biased way. This website also offers kid-friendly basic facts from 5 major world religions and a handful of others.
4. Elementary children can watch a video/ tv show/or movie with characters living a different life than your family. Stick to realistic themes, and of course age-appropriate material. Watch these shows together with your child, and have a discussion after.
5. Prepare traditional foods from another culture together. This is really easy to pair with cultural celebrations from around the world!
6. Play the devil's advocate game with your older child to present another point of view. These respectful debate skills are helpful outside of learning about others!
7. Visit a museum, event, or location that offers something different from what you do at home. Younger children learn by experience, so this is the best option to just bring awareness in a fun way. Even small things like taking the city bus, hailing a taxi, renting a bicycle, or walking home all offer diverse experiences.
Leanne Gray, M.Ed is the owner of The Prepared Environment, which supports families in creating an ideal environment for their children at home. She has over fifteen years experience working with children in both public, private, and Montessori schools, and is AMI primary trained. She particularly loves to hear from you! You can always contact her for personalized support and answers to your questions.