The world is made up of so many different kinds of people and it's vital that our kids understand this!
Ireland today is such a great multi cultural country. Our kids are priviledged to grow up in such a diverse enviornment.
Today there are large numbers in our child’s classes so it's important that our little ones realises that each and every one of us are different. Some kids they meet are from different backgrounds and none of us are all the same. Teaching your child that this is the norm and that different is beautiful is a wonderful start to give them in their social life.
There are a few things you can do to help your child to adjust to a more diverse world so read on and hopefully this will help...
Be a good example- A lot of our kids behaviour is mirrored by our own. Avoid stereotyping people in front of your kids and treat people equally.
Be open and don’t conform to the norm- Together as a family you can visit different countries and learn about others beliefs and cultures. If you are unable to travel consider themed food nights at home by eating foreign foods that are completely different to your usual eating habits. Use the internet and encyclopaedias to learn about countries and their governments, health systems and way of life. Just pick a random country or if Ireland are playing against a country in a football match use that as an opportunity and research the particular country. Who knows you may visit the place once you have learnt more about it.
Another great place to start is by having a globe or a world map available in your home. We have a large and colorful map which is framed and hanging in our kitchen. When something globally newsworthy happens, the kids can go right to the map and physically see that area of the world. This allows them opportunities to ask questions, engage in discussion, and creates teachable moments for the whole family.
Don’t live in denial- Everyone is different, don't ignore that. As one example, when your kid asks about a child in his/her class and asks why they are different, never say “don’t say that” you are only making it seem strange. Answer the questions and explain how that person is different to them, and also talk about how some kids have different hair and how some have different accents but ensure your kiddie knows they are not hugely different from their school friends overall. This teaches your child that it’s okay to notice differences, and more importantly, it teaches him that it’s good to talk about them.
Encourage your kids to write with international Pen Pals
! Children who build up relationships with people in other countries will end up being more globally aware. With the prevalence of email and social media these days, this is easier than ever. Kid World Citizen is a great resource to locate international pen pals.
Be sociable and meet people from all walks of life- Kids play dates are a great opportunity to meet parents of your kiddies and finding out more about them. Take an interest in the kids from other countries or ethnic backgrounds and ask about their country, their food and what brings them to Ireland. If your child observes you asking questions and enjoying the conversation they themselves will be more open to diversity and therefore will accept others whatever their culture. If you are able consider organising a “culture food night” at your child's school and invite people from all over the world, they will probably love a chance to be involved and you can all get a chance to taste yummy food. Make sure you make the homemade soda bread with the butter!
We are fortunate to live in a country where so many ethnicities are represented, giving families plenty of wonderful opportunities to learn and appreciate how different cultures. As a parent our job is to ensure our kids grow up to be fine young people, and teaching them diversity is a big part of that.
There are so many other ways to teach your kids about diversity and these are just a few examples.