Teaching Diversity to Our Children At Home
Diversity is a huge topic, and it can feel overwhelming when you first start thinking about how to share all its pieces with your kids. Luckily, it does not have to be as difficult as it may seem. Try out a tip or two from the list below to start teaching diversity to kids at home:
Model What You Teach
We all have biases within us to some extent. If we are serious about teaching the wonders of diversity and inclusion to our children, we have to start with ourselves. Listening more to people of color and other minority groups, challenging stereotypes, and avoiding assumptions are great places to start.
The following resources are designed to help grown-ups break down their own inclusivity barriers, are easy to implement, and are highly recommended by diversity experts today:
Answer Questions Honestly
Kids have questions, and that is okay! Instead of shying away next time a little one asks why a neighbor’s skin is a different shade than their own, respond honestly and positively — “Yes, Jen’s skin is darker than ours. Isn’t it beautiful?”
The same thing goes for questions that can be a bit more difficult. Some questions that relate to diversity can be difficult for grown-ups to understand, and they may require some research or thought on your end before you are able to respond. Consider saying, “That’s a really thoughtful question. Mommy/Daddy will find the answer for you. Help me remember to talk about this again tonight at dinner!”
If your child is asking questions that are painful to answer, possibly relating to oppression or other diversity challenges our society often faces, respond with truth and hope. “That is hard to see, but it’s true. It may take some time to before we’re able to see it getting better, but we can help right now by doing ‘a,’ ‘b,’ and ‘c.’”
Choose Inclusive Books, Toys, and Television Shows
Inclusive products are one of the easiest ways to teach kids about diversity at home, especially when we are considering our youngest children. The most important factor to consider when looking for a book, show, or toy that is good for diversity is representation. Look for books and movies that have people of all colors, backgrounds, and abilities. Consider having dolls of varying ethnicities instead of three that show the same skin, eye, and hair color.
Some great books for diversity of all kinds:
For dolls, Baby Stella is easy to find in a variety of colors.
Discover Your Own Roots
Digging into your own ancestry is a great way to introduce the concept of ethnicity to your child, and it shows how incredible each of our families’ journeys have been, no matter where our ancestry began.
Share a History Lesson at Home
Older kids can really benefit from understanding the history of diversity and equality in our country as well. These concepts, events, people, and movements can show kids why it is so important to treat every person equally. For older kids, read books or have family discussions about Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr, or Booker T Washington. Dive into the Women’s Rights Movement or the history of people with disabilities in the United States.
No matter where you start in teaching diversity to kids at home, it is an important step that can help lead to a brighter future for all. Consider implementing a tip or two from the list above into your at-home routine or ponder other ways to include lessons on inclusivity where you can. It is a big topic, but our kids are ready to tackle it alongside us.