Often we have no clue where to start this conversation about diversity, or maybe we just don’t and push it aside. It’s okay to be afraid to have this conversation, but get informed, buckle up, and do it.
Do some research on things that you may not know so much about; such as languages or specific disabilities. This can also be a great educational time for you as well. You do not want to send your children out into the world not knowing how to perceive others in a respectful manner. We want our children to have an understanding of cultural differences and be accepting of all.
This is a tender topic that may put the same kind of pressure on as having the birds and the bees’ conversation, but if we want to grow children with a deep understanding of inclusion, then we have to have these uncomfortable conversations.
Here are some easy ways to help get the message to your preschooler:
- It’s okay to have conversations about diversity. If you child has a question, then answer them. They are not trying to be rude. It is better that you explain what they are asking so that they have the correct information.
- Reading diverse books daily will have an impact all its own. Making it a regular habit of seeing all kinds of people doing all kinds of things will make an impact.
- Look for other intentional learning moments. Take your children to events or festivals to learn more about others.
- Be specific when telling children how to refer to others. Always use that person’s name. Avoid using labels and making that apart of their language at all.
- Be all inclusive even if you do not celebrate certain things. Talk to your children about all holidays, religions, race, disabilities, sexual orientation, and types of families. Do this in a way that you are comfortable with, but let them know that the world is more than what they see, and that it is not black and white.
- Find a balance of differences and similarities in your lives. It is important to build upon similarities to create empathy. If they can relate they are less likely to discriminate. It is important to point out the differences as well to expand your child’s mind, not keep them in their box of what is “right” or “normal”.
- Ask open ended questions such as: “what made you notice that?”
Accept that you child will say things at some point or another that will totally embarrass you; try to realize that they are not trying to be hurtful they just don’t know. That is where you will swoop in with your newly learned skills to lead them in the right direction.
Model these inclusive behaviors and use appropriate language. Children are very observant. They are listening to what you are saying. They look up to you, and if you say it then they will think it is okay for them to say as well.
Lead Pre-K Teacher
Early Literacy Coordinator